Monarch, Danaus plexippus


Danaus plexippus

A large butterfly, mainly orange with black wing veins and margins, with two rows of white spots in the black margins. The Monarch is much lighter below on the hindwing, and males have a scent patch — a dark spot along the vein — in the center of the hindwing.

During their migration they may be found anywhere, but they lay eggs on a variety of Milkweed plants, in both upland and lowlands, and can often be found along woodland edges where milkweeds are prevalent. The Monarch is very fond of nectaring on whatever is abundant and in flower at the time, so the best place to look for them is open areas with abundant nectar sources.

Overwintering Strategy:   Two-way Migration

The Monarch has several broods in Wisconsin, with the final brood migrating to Mexico. It is found from mid-May to late October in southern Wisconsin.

Caterpillar Host Plants:
Milkweeds including Common milkweed (Asclepius syriaca), Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata), Poke milkweed (A. exaltata), Purple milkweed (A. purpurascens), Butterfly milkweed (A. Tuberosa), Prairie milkweed (Asclepias hirtella), Whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) and Short green milkweed(A. viridiflora)

The Monarch is found throughout Wisconsin and is one of the most recognized and widely distributed butterflies in North America. Monarchs migrate north into Wisconsin in May. Wisconsin has several generations, with the last generation migrating to Mexico. Large numbers of these butterflies may be seen at night roosting together during this migration. These large groups are most common along Lake Michigan or the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers.

Overwintering Strategy

Two-way migration: Adult migrates from Wisconsin to Central Mexico
Small migration: Adult migrates from Wisconsin to southern US
Immigrant: Adult migrates into Wisconsin from warmer areas and don't fly south in winter
Adult Butterfly: Hibernates overwinter as an adult butterfly
Eggs: Eggs laid on stems, twigs or foot plants overwinter in diapause
Caterpillar: Caterpillars make nests on the base of plants and hibernate until spring
Chrysalis: Caterpillars shed their last skin, form a chrysalis and enter diapause.

For more information, read: Where Do Butterflies Go In Winter?

Further Information:   

 Design A Butterfly Garden
 Take The Butterfly Quiz
 Monarch Life Cycle
 Butterflies and Moths of North America
 Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Assn (NABA)
 The Butterfly Site

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