Monarch butterflies, also known as milkweed butterflies, are considered to be one of the most beautiful and royal looking butterflies on the planet today. It is the most widely recognized of all the other American butterflies with its wings having distinct colours of orange, white and black.
Monarch butterflies have two species; one specie is to be found in North America, which differs from the other specie to be found in South America. However, these species are also to be found in parts of Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, in some parts of Europe and in certain islands also. Monarch butterflies are scientifically known as Danaus Plexippus. The most astonishing characteristic of the Monarch butterflies is their incredible mass migration that brings millions of them to California, Mexico in the fall of winters. These butterflies make a massive journey of about 3000 miles a year.
Monarch butterflies have several interesting facts about them which are persistently researched by many entomologists and enthusiasts.
Fact 1: Monarch butterflies have a body size of 10 cm (including wings)
Fact 2: Monarchs weigh just about half a gram, with the smallest Monarch weighing 0.27g and the biggest Monarch weighing 0.75g!
Fact 3: the physical appearances of both the male and the female Monarchs differ from each other. The male Monarch has two spots on the inside of its hind wings with the female Monarch having none. Also, their abdomen ends differ from that of each other. The female looks darker than the male counterpart and has slightly wider wing veins.
Fact 4: the Monarch butterflies can flap their wings for about 300 to 720 times a minute, which is quite slower than that of other butterflies!
Fact 5: Monarch butterflies with that of other butterflies have an ability to see the broadest visual of colours! Monarchs can even see the UV light which humans cannot!
Fact 6: Monarchs can generally fly when it is above 50 degrees F if it is sunny. The sun allows them to warm their muscles up so as to able to fly efficiently.
Fact 7: Monarch butterflies cannot fly when their body temperature is less than 86 degrees. They will sit in the sun so as to warm themselves up!
Fact 8: the Monarch larva sheds its skin 5 times before reaching its pupa stage. The caterpillar sometimes eats its own shed skin!
Fact 9: Monarch butterflies store a poison in its body known as cardiac glycosides that has been ingested by them from the milkweed plants on which they grow. These toxins generally provide the Monarchs with a poisonous defence against its predators like lizards, birds and frogs.
Fact 10: Monarchs use their eyes to locate the flowers and their antennas to smell the nectar and small receptors present in their feet called “tarsi” which is used to taste sweet substances.
Fact 11: The Monarchs emerge as a beautiful black-white-orange colour butterflies which are also signalled as warning colours that signals the predators that the butterfly will taste bad or would be harmful or toxic to them.
Fact 12: Monarch butterflies have been found out to travel around 265 miles a day! These butterflies have been recorded to travel about 3100 miles when migrating to another state or location.
Fact 13: A Monarch was spotted at the highest level, which was about 11,000 feet or 2 miles above the sea level!
Fact 14: When it rains, usually the Monarchs take shelter or hang themselves upside down from the branch of a leaf so as to shed the water droplets from their wings.
Fact 15: It is believed that the Monarchs use the magnetic field of the earth and the position of the sun to reach Mexico, where it can spend winters.