Iowa State Insect
Monarch Butterfly (common name)
Danaus plexippus (scientific name)
The monarch is a large orange-and-black butterfly known for its attractive coloration, unique migratory journey, and fascinating multi-stage life cycle. It was formally adopted as the state insect of Alabama in 1989, Idaho in 1992, Illinois in 1975, Minnesota in 2000, and Texas in 1995. The monarch is also the state butterfly of Vermont (1987) and West Virginia (1995). While Iowa has no official state insect, the monarch butterfly remains a popular species throughout the state.
Adult monarchs possess two pairs of brilliant orange wings with black wing veins and outer margins and white spots along the edges. Males have unique black dots (stigmata) along the veins of their wings and are slightly bigger than females. Milkweed butterflies like monarchs, queens, and soldiers are dependent on the milkweed plant and well known for their long annual migrations. Milkweed is poisonous to vertebrates, so the monarchs who feed on milkweed become unpalatable or even poisonous to potential predators. The black-headed grosbeak and the black-backed Oriole are the only bird species that can digest the monarch.
Wingspan: 3.5–4 in (8.9–10.2 cm)
Larvae: Black head and body with nine black, white, and yellow rings. It features three pairs of legs with claws attached and five pairs of "prolegs" that extend backwards.
Adult: 4–6 weeks on average, although butterflies that emerge in the fall will live for six to eight months.
Fields, meadows, prairies, and urban and suburban parks and gardens. In winter they live in warmer climates with thick tree cover.
Range: Southern Canada to northern South America. Also found on various South Pacific islands, Sri Lanka, India, the Azores, the Canary Islands, and even parts of Western Europe.
Flight period: Usually starts in October, although if the weather turns cold earlier, they may migrate earlier.
Conservation status: Wintering locations in Mexican mountain areas are threatened by logging.
Monarch butterflies born late in the summer migrate in the autumn from their breeding grounds to their winter habitats. In North America, monarchs in the East go to fir forests in volcanic mountain areas in central Mexico, while those living in the West go to parts of California where they hibernate. The monarch can fly as high as 1,000 feet (300 m), is capable of non-stop flight for over 600 miles (1,000 km), and is the only insect to migrate up to 2,500 miles (4,200 km) to overwinter.
Adults: Nectar from different kinds of flowers
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|Author: World Trade Press|