Wisconsin Native Caterpillars

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) caterpillar

Monarch Caterpillar

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.

Adult Butterfly Profile
Bog Fritillary, Boloria eunomia

Caterpillar Anatomy: A Tutorial

Caterpillars come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Some caterpillars are quite hairy, while others are smooth. Despite differences between species, though, all caterpillars share certain morphological features.

Bee Quiz Graphic

Caterpillar Quiz

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.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus

How Caterpillars Change Into Butterflies

How does this magic happen? Learn about metamorphosis - the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult bitterfly.

Bees flying footer graphic