Butterflies and moths flutter around us all summer, but we don’t always know what kind of winged creature it is flying by.
Not so with monarchs. They are one of the most recognized and loved creatures of all, and they are easy to identify because of their bright orange wings with black markings.
Like all moths and butterflies, monarchs undergo metamorphosis during their lives. They begin as eggs. The eggs then hatch into caterpillars, which are also called pupa. Once the caterpillars reach their full size, they enter into a chrysalis, where they transform into a butterfly, the adult stage of their life cycle.
While monarchs are beautiful creatures, their numbers are getting smaller. Consider asking your parents to plant some milkweed plants in your yard to give the monarchs a little help. As a result, you’ll hopefully also have the great pleasure of seeing these delicate insects up close.
Here’s more information about these winged creatures.
Butterflies and moths are insects, like bees, beetles, ants and mosquitoes, among many others.
The host plant for monarchs is milkweed, and it is required for their survival. The butterflies lay eggs only on milkweed plants, and the caterpillars eat only milkweed.
Monarchs eat different things at different stages of their lives. The caterpillars eat only milkweed, but as adults the butterflies eat nectar from flowers.
The wingspan of a monarch butterfly is about 3 inches to 4 inches. They are medium-sized butterflies.
Male and female monarch butterflies look very similar, but there are a few differences between them. The males have spots on their hind, or back, wings that they use to attract females. In addition, females have thicker black veins on their wings.
Like many birds that live in Illinois, monarchs migrate. In late summer, monarchs begin a long journey to Mexico. They spend the winter in forests of fir trees in the Sierra Madre mountains.
During the summer months, monarchs live all across North America. They can be found anywhere milkweed grows. They are most commonly seen in prairies and other grasslands. The Midwest typically has the most monarchs because milkweed is more common here.
Monarchs are named for their orange color. When immigrants from England and Holland arrived in the United States, they were impressed with the color of the butterflies. They decided to name their monarchs in honor of their monarch, King William III, the prince of orange.
Many animals consume insects as a large part of their diet, but hardly any animals eat monarchs. That’s because they are poisonous to most other animals. The milkweed that they eat as caterpillars contains chemicals that are toxic to most creatures. These toxins stay in their bodies even after they transform into butterflies. Animals recognize the orange and black pattern on their wings and know to stay away because they could make them very sick.
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