Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch Butterfly is a butterfly that is in the Nymphalidae family.  It is a popular butterfly that is found in North America.

What Does the Monarch Butterfly Look Like?

The Monarch Butterfly is very easy to recognize because it is a popular American butterfly.  It has black, orange and white wings in a specific pattern.

The wings of the Monarch Butterfly have veins that are black in color and the front wings have some orange spots near the tips of the wings.  The front and back wings are yellowish brown underneath instead of orange.

Monarch Butterfly Female

The color and the shape of the wings will look more red when the species is first born and then when it is time for them to migrate, the colors change.  Males are bigger than the female Monarch Butterflies and they have a black patch on their back wings to attract the female.

The wings reach around 4 inches in length.

Where Does the Monarch Butterfly Live?

The Monarch Butterfly is found in the eastern and western parts of the Untied States and in Canada and in some parts of South America.  The Monarch Butterfly has also been seen in Bermuda, Hawaii, Cuba, Solomon’s, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Philippians, North Africa and even in the UK.

The habitat of the Monarch Butterfly is in fields, pastures, prairies, around grasses, gardens, trees and in busy areas by roads and other land.

Monarch Butterfly Male

Behavior of the Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch butterfly female will lay one egg on the bottom of a leaf in the spring and summer.  The eggs are cream or light green in color and are cone shaped.

The older the female is the smaller the eggs will be.  Larger females will lay larger eggs.  It takes up to 8 days for the eggs to hatch.  The females will lay their eggs along the route towards the south when migrating.

Life Cycle

The Monarch Butterfly goes through five stages molting, first instar is when the caterpillar leaves the egg, the second instar which is when the caterpillar becomes white and yellow and will grow tentacles, the third instar which is when the tentacles become larger and the caterpillar gets bigger, the fourth instar which is when there are different patterns formed on the caterpillar such as white spots, and the fifth instar which is when white dots grow on the legs and the caterpillar is at its hungriest and longest time, up to 4.5 centimeters.

The larvae will then become a pupa and will prepare to go in its chrysalis shell so that it can eventually emerge as a butterfly.  This takes around 15 days before it forms into a butterfly.

The adult butterfly will leave the chrysalis and hang upside down for a few hours until its wings are dry.  The butterfly will pump fluids into its wings and when it can fly it does.


The Monarch Butterfly will migrate during the cold weather.  They will go to places where there is more sunlight and where the temperatures are higher.

Some Monarch Butterflies that migrate are found drinking nectar from different plants such as mulberries, pecans, mesquites and other plants.

What Does the Monarch Butterfly Eat?

The Monarch Butterfly will drink nectar from plants in their area.  They have to have nectar plants in order to survive.  Some of these include locusts, willows, cottonwoods, oranges, elms, basswoods, sumacs and more.

Finding a Mate

The Monarch Butterfly will find a mate by pushing the female to the ground.  The male will then help the female to have nutrition before she lays her eggs.


The Monarch Butterfly is popular with humans.  It is the state insect of Alabama, Idaho, West Virginia, Vermont, Minnesota and Texas.

Many people make butterfly gardens to enjoy the Monarch Butterfly.  Some sanctuaries have been made to preserve the Monarch Butterfly.

More Facts About the Monarch Butterfly:

  • The Monarch Butterfly is similar in color to the viceroy butterfly, but the Viceroy butterfly has an extra black stripe across the back wings.
  • The Monarch Butterfly flies in a way that is considered “slow and sailing.”  This means that they fly about 5 miles per hour.
  • Even though the Monarch Butterfly has six legs like all other insects, it only uses its middle and back legs.
  • The male Monarch Butterfly has larger wings than the female.
  • The female Monarch Butterfly has thicker wings and are stronger than the male.
  • It takes around 25 days for the Monarch Butterfly to become a butterfly from an egg.
  • Most Monarch Butterflies live two to five weeks.
  • The Monarch Butterfly sees like humans with a retina that has three types of proteins and allows them to see the world through wavelengths.
  • The Monarch Butterfly can see yellow from orange colors and can remember colors once it sees one.
  • The Monarch Butterfly uses its color sight to see flowers that they like to get nectar from and to help them know the difference between the male and female.

What Did You Learn?

What is the Monarch Butterfly?  The Monarch Butterfly is one of the most popular butterflies found in North America and Canada.

What does the Monarch Butterfly do when it gets wintertime?  The Monarch Butterfly will migrate to the warmer states when it is wintertime.

What is interesting between the Monarch Butterfly and humans?  The Monarch Butterfly is very popular with humans, they build gardens and sanctuaries to enjoy this insect.

What is interesting about the Monarch Butterfly’s vision?  The Monarch Butterfly is able to see color like people are.

What does seeing color mean for the Monarch Butterfly?  The Monarch Butterfly is able to see color through wavelengths and they can remember different colors that they see.  The Monarch Butterfly is able to determine if a butterfly is a male or female by being able to see color.

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