The monarch butterfly or simply monarch (Danaus plexippus) is a milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae) in the family Nymphalidae. Other common names depending on region include milkweed, common tiger, wanderer, and black veined brown. It may be the most familiar North American butterfly, and is considered an iconic pollinatorspecies. Its wings feature an easily recognizable black, orange, and white pattern, with a wingspan of 8.9–10.2 cm (3½–4 in) The viceroy butterfly is similar in color and pattern, but is markedly smaller and has an extra black stripe across each hind wing.
The eastern North American monarch population is notable for its annual southward late-summer/autumn migration from the United States and southern Canada to Mexico. During the fall migration, monarchs cover thousands of miles, with a corresponding multi-generational return north. The western North American population of monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains often migrates to sites in California but has been found in overwintering Mexican sites as well. Monarchs were transported to the International Space Station and were bred there.
After a ten-fold drop in the population of the eastern monarch butterfly population over the last decade, a 2016 study predicted an 11%–57% probability that this population will go quasi-extinct over the next 20 years.
Kingdom : Animalia
Phylum : Arthropoda
Class : Insecta
Order : Lepidoptera
Family : Nymphalidae
Tribe : Danaini
Genus : Danaus
The monarch butterfly undergoes the four stages of complete metamorphosis:
The eggs are derived from materials ingested as a larva and from the spermatophores received from males during mating. Eggs are laid singly on the underside of a young leaf of a milkweed plant during the spring and summer months. The eggs are cream-colored or light green, ovate to conical in shape, and about 1.2×0.9 mm in size. The eggs weigh less than 0.5 mg each and have raised ridges that form longitudinally from the point to apex to the base. Though each egg is 1/1000 the mass of the female, she may lay up to her own mass in eggs. Females lay smaller eggs as they age. Larger females lay larger eggs. The number of eggs laid by a female, who may mate several times, ranges from 290 to 1180.  Females lay their eggs on milkweed that make their offspring less sick. Eggs take 3 to 8 days to develop and hatch into larva or caterpillars.:(p21)Monarchs will lay eggs along the southern migration route.
The fifth instar larva has a more complex banding pattern and white dots on the prolegs, with front legs that are small and very close to the head.
At this stage of development, it is relatively large compared to the earlier instars. The caterpillar completes its growth. At this point, it is 25 to 45 mm long and 5 to 8 mm wide. This can be compared to the first instar, which was 2 to 6 mm long and 0.5 to 1.5 mm wide. Fifth instar larvae increase 2000 times from first instars. Fifth-stage instar larva chew through the petiole or mid-rev of milkweed leaves and stop the flow of latex. After this, they eat more leaf tissue. Before pupation, larva must consume milkweed to increase their mass. Larva stop feeding and search for a pupation site. The caterpillar attaches itself securely to a horizontal surface, using a silk pad. At this point, it latches on with its hind legs and hangs down. It then molts into an opaque, blue-green chrysalis with small gold dots. At normal summer temperatures, it matures in a few weeks. The cuticle of the chrysalis becomes transparent and the monarch's characteristic orange and black wings become visible. At the end of metamorphosis, the adult emerges from the chrysalis, expands and dries its wings and flies away. Monarch metamorphosis from egg to adult occurs during the warm summer temperatures in as little as 25 days, extending to as many as seven weeks during cool spring conditions. During the development, both larva and their milkweed hosts are vulnerable to weather extremes, predators, parasites and diseases; commonly fewer than 10% of monarch eggs and caterpillars survive.:(pp21-22)
The caterpillar goes through five major, distinct stages of growth and after each one, it molts. Each caterpillar, or instar, that molts is larger than the previous as it eats and stores energy in the form of fat and nutrients to carry it through the nonfeeding pupal stage.
The first instar caterpillar that emerges out of the egg is pale green and translucent. It lacks banding coloration or tentacles. The larvae or caterpillar eats its egg case and begins to feed on milkweed. It is during this stage of growth that the caterpillar begins to sequester cardenolides. The circular motion a caterpillar uses while eating milkweed prevents the flow of latex that could entrap it.
The second instar larva develops a characteristic pattern of white, yellow and black transverse bands. It is no longer translucent but is covered in short setae. Pairs of black tentacles (stinkhorns) begin to grow. One pair grows on the thorax and another pair on the abdomen.
The third instar larva has more distinct bands and the two pairs of tentacles become longer. Legs on the thorax differentiate into a smaller pair near the head and larger pairs further back. These third stage caterpillars began to eat along the leaf edges.
The fourth instar has a different banding pattern. It develops white spots on the prolegs near the back of the caterpillar.
In the pupa or chrysalis stage, the caterpillar spins a silk pad on to a horizontal substrate. It then hangs from the pad by the last pair of prolegs upside down, resembling the letter 'J'. It sheds its skin, leaving itself encased in an articulated green exoskeleton. During this pupal stage, the adult butterfly forms inside. The exoskeleton becomes transparent before it ecloses (emerges), and its adult colors can finally be seen.
An adult butterfly emerges after about two weeks as a chrysalid, and hangs upsidedown until its wings are dry. Fluids are pumped into the wings, and they expand and stiffen. The monarch expands and retracts its wings, and once conditions allow it then flies and feeds on a variety of nectar plants. During the breeding season adults reach sexual maturity in four or five days, however, the migrating generation does not reach maturity until overwintering is complete. Monarchs typically live two through five weeks during their breeding season.:(pp22-23) Larvae growing in high densities are smaller, have lower survival, and weigh less as adults compared to lower densities.
5th instar with the white spots visible on the prolegs
Healthy males are more likely to mate than unhealthy ones. Females and males typically mate more than once. Females that mate several times lay more eggs. Mating for the overwintering populations occurs in the spring, prior to dispersion. Mating is less dependent on pheromones than other species in its genus.
Courtship occurs in two phases. During the aerial phase, a male pursues and often forces a female to the ground. During the ground phase, the butterflies copulate and remain attached for about 30 through 60 minutes. Only 30% of mating attempts end in copulation, suggesting that females may be able to avoid mating, though some have more success than others. During copulation, a male transfers his spermatophore to a female. Along with sperm, the spermatophore provides a female with nutrition, which aids her in egg-laying. An increase in spermatophore size increases the fecundity of female monarchs. Males that produce larger spermatophores also fertilize more females' eggs.
Emerging from chrysalis
Raising Monarchs Part 2 - Hatching Eggs (How To Hatch Monarch Eggs)
The Article above are summarized to read the full article click on the link below :
Raising Monarchs Part 3 - Caring For Caterpillars (How To Raise Caterpillars)
Raising Monarchs Part 1 - Finding Eggs (How To Find Monarch Butterfly Eggs)
Raising Monarchs Part 4 - The Chrysalis (How To Care For Monarch Butterfly Chrysalides)
Raising Monarchs Part 5 - Releasing Adults (How To Raise Monarch Butterflies)
Another Great You Tube Channel : Rearing Monarch Butterflies - Clip 1 of 20 - First generation adults emerge
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- Black Swallowtail
Papilio polyxenes Fabricius, 1775
Identification: Upper surface of wings mostly black; on inner edge of hindwing is a black spot centered in larger orange spot. Male has yellow band near edge of wings; female has row of yellow spots. Female hindwing with iridescent blue band. In the Southwest, yellow forms predominate in the subspecies P. coloro.
Wing Span: 3 1/4 - 4 1/4 inches (8 - 11 cm).
Life History: Males perch and patrol for receptive females. Female lays eggs singly on leaves and flowers of the host, which are then eaten by hatching larvae. Hibernates as a chrysalis.
Flight: One-2 flights from April-October in northern regions of range; 3 flights in southern regions.
Caterpillar Hosts: Leaves of plants in the parsley family (Apiaceae) including Queen Anne's Lace, carrot, celery and dill. Sometimes plants in the citrus family (Rutaceae) are preferred.
Adult Food: Nectar from flowers including red clover, milkweed, and thistles.
Habitat: A variety of open areas including fields, suburbs, marshes, deserts, and roadsides.
Range: Most of the eastern U.S., north into Quebec, west into s. Saskatchewan, Colorado and se. California; south to n. South America. Subspecies coloro in desert Southwest.
Conservation: Not usually of concern.
NCGR: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management Needs: Maintain open fields in East.
Raising Black Swallowtail Butterflies
DIY Butterfly House & Black Swallowtail Butterfly or Parsley Caterpillar
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