A striking butterfly of sandhills, wet prairies, gardens and disturbed sites throughout Florida. Can be seen year-round in south Florida, and typically from March to October in the northern portions of the state. The range extends from southern Canada through Central America and most of South America. Monarchs are also present in Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii and other Pacific Islands.
The North America population is renown for the multi-generational migration. Three generations of butterflies that live only two to six weeks will travel north during the summer, mating and reproducing along the way. A fourth generation lives nine months and will migrate back south to central Mexico or the California coast for the winter where huge numbers can be found roosting in trees. Some monarchs will overwinter along the southeast Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and tropical populations make altitude changes during the seasons instead of migrating.
Danaus plexippus is a medium-large to large butterfly with orange wings having wide black borders with white spots and veins.
Host plants are primarily the milkweeds and other members of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae). Most of these plants contain poisons that are stored in the caterpillars and adult butterflies, making them distasteful to birds and other vertebrate predators. After this unpleasant meal, they will tend to avoid butterflies with these markings. In addition to the other Danaus species, which in Florida includes queen and soldier butterflies, the viceroys mimic monarchs and therefore are less likely to be a meal for birds.
Danaus plexippus is a member of the Nymphalidae - Brush-footed butterflies family.
Other species of the Danaus genus in the Wild Florida Photo database:
Danaus gilippus - QUEEN
For more information on this species, visit the following link:
University of Florida IFAS information on Monarchs in Florida
Date record last modified: Jan 24, 2020