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Monarch - ROM2003_837_14

ROM2003_837_14

Monarch

Geography: Canada, Ontario: Thornhill
Date: August 21, 1959
Dimensions:
Maximum Wingspan: 105 mm
Minimum Wingspan: 93 mm
Taxonomy
    • Attributes
    • Objects
    • Taxonomy
    • Animalia
    • Arthropoda
    • Insecta
    • Lepidoptera
    • Nymphalidae
    • Danainae
    • Danaini
    • Danaus
    • plexippus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Object number: ROME52698
Not on view
DescriptionMonarch butterflies grace our fields and meadows for just a few months each summer. At least twelve different species of the milkweed plant provide monarch caterpillars and the butterflies they develop into with a chemical defence that makes them distasteful to some predators. Although a predator such as a bird may attack a monarch, it will quickly spit out its foul-tasting meal and avoid feeding on any similar looking insects. Monarchs undergo complete metamorphosis—egg to larva to pupa to adult. This process can take as little as one month to complete. Monarchs require an ambient temperature above 13°C to fly—anything cooler and they cannot move. Since they cannot withstand our freezing winters, millions of monarchs migrate south every fall flying up to 3,200 km (2,000 mi) to sites in Mexico or California. The following spring, the same monarchs begin the return trip north. During the northward migration, these individuals mate, lay eggs and then die. The next generations complete the journey north. Unlike the southward migration, the journey north is executed in stages, with each generation moving further north, following the bloom of the milkweed. In the fall, the southward migrating monarchs then return to the same overwintering sites that the northward migrating monarchs had departed from and this remarkable insect migration repeats itself the following year.
In Collection(s)