Caterpillar Identification Guide

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) caterpillar

Common Name: Monarch

Genus-Species: Danaus plexippus

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.