Mar 21, 2012

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Did you know?

That monarch butterflies are not captured by birds because they have bad taste? This is due to the toxic sap contained in the leaves eaten by the butterfly in its caterpillar stage. The caterpillars are immune to toxins that remain in their bodies, even after going through pupation and become butterflies.

Unlike most insects in temperate climates, Monarch butterflies can not survive a long cold winter. Instead, they spend the winter lodges in places. Populations in the west of the Rocky Mountains travel to small groves along the coast of California. Populations in the east of the Rocky Mountains fly south to the forests in the mountains of Mexico. The monarch migration is driven by seasonal changes. Day length and temperature changes affect the movement of this kind. The caterpillars only eat milkweed and nothing else. The larvae and adult butterflies retain poisonous glycosides from milkweed to be poisonous to predators. This is a very effective defense strategy, protecting them against almost all predators. Potential predators learn to avoid this kind quickly after trying to eat it.    


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