Wisconsin Native Caterpillars
Genus-Species: Danaus plexippus
Description: White with black and yellow rings
-- warning colors that signal predators that this caterpillar is distasteful. There are two
long, black filaments at head and tail ends.
Chrysalis: Green with fine black lines and a
gold-dotted dorsal band around the abdomen. Once known as "the little green coffin
with golden nails."
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)
Habitat: 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.
Comments: 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.
Find instructions on how to design a butterfly-friendly habitat including a catalog of favorite flowers
guaranteed to attract butterflies.
Take this quick quiz and see how much you know about caterpillars. This quiz is intended for fun, in
a random-facts-can-be-cool kind of way.
How does this magic happen? Learn about metamorphosis - the process of transformation from an
immature form to an adult bitterfly.