|Monarch (Danaus plexippus [Linnaeus])
Wing span: 3 3/8 - 4 7/8 inches.
Identification: Upper side of male is bright orange with wide black borders and black veins; hindwing has a patch of scent scales.
Upper side of female is orange-brown with wide black borders and blurred black veins. Both sexes have white spots on borders and apex.
Life history: Adults warm up by basking dorsally (with their wings open and toward the sun). Females lay eggs singly under the host leaves; caterpillars eat leaves and flowers. Adults make massive migrations from August-October,
many flying across Wimberley, Texas in the Central Texas
Flyway. These migrations require flying thousands of miles south to hibernate along the California coast and in central Mexico. A few overwinter along the Gulf coast or south Atlantic coast. Along the way, Monarchs stop to feed on flower nectar and to roost together at night. At the Mexico wintering sites, butterflies roost in trees and form huge aggregations that may have millions of individuals. During the winter the butterflies may take moisture and flower nectar during warm days. Most have mated before they leave for the north in the spring, and females lay eggs along the way. Residents of tropical areas do not migrate but appear to make altitude changes during the dry season.
Flight: In North America during spring and summer there may be 1-3 broods in the north and 4-6 broods in the south. May breed all year in Florida, South Texas, and southeastern California.
Caterpillar hosts: Milkweeds including common milkweed (Asclepius syriaca), swamp milkweed (A. incarnata), and showy milkweed (A. speciosa); and milkweed vine in the tropics. Most milkweeds contain cardiac glycosides which are stored in the bodies of both the caterpillar and adult. These poisons are distasteful and emetic to birds and other vertebrate predators. After tasting a Monarch, a predator might associate the bright warning colors of the adult or caterpillar with an unpleasant meal, and avoid Monarchs in the future.
Adult food: Nectar from all milkweeds. Early in the season before milkweeds bloom, Monarchs visit a variety of flowers including dogbane, lilac, red clover, lantana, and thistles. In the fall adults visit composites including goldenrods, blazing stars, ironweed, and tickseed sunflower.
Habitat: Many open habitats including fields, meadows, weedy areas, marshes, and roadsides.
Range: Southern Canada south through all of the United States, Central America, and most of South America. Also present in Australia, Hawaii, and other Pacific Islands.
Comments: The Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) is edible, but mimics the poisonous Monarch in order to gain protection from predators.
Conservation: Overwintering sites in California and Mexico should be protected and conserved.
Management needs: Develop conservation and management plans for all wintering sites, migration corridors, and principal breeding areas.
|Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor [Linnaeus])
Wing span: 2 3/4 - 5 inches.
Identification: Upper surface of hindwing iridescent blue or blue-green. Underside of hindwing with submarginal row of 7 round orange spots in iridescent blue field.
Life history: Adult males patrol likely habitat in search of receptive females. Females lay batches of eggs on underside of host plant leaves. Caterpillars feed in small groups when young but become solitary when older. Wintering is by the chrysalis.
Flight: In the East and California, adults fly primarily in late spring and summer, but the butterfly is commoner in late summer and fall in the South and Southwest. Where lack of freezing temperatures permit, adults may fly continuously. In lowland tropical Mexico they may be found in any month.
Caterpillar hosts: Pipevines (Aristolochia species), including Aristolochia californica, A. serpentaria and others.
Adult food: Solely nectar from flowers including thistles (Cirsium species), bergamot, lilac, viper's bugloss, common azaleas, phlox, teasel, azaleas, dame's-rocket, lantana, petunias, verbenas, lupines, yellow star thistle, California buckeye, yerba santa, brodiaeas, and gilias.
Habitat: A wide variety of open habitats, open woodland, and woodland edges.
Range: Rare stray to Canada (s. Manitoba). Tropical lowlands south to southern Mexico.
Management needs: Management of habitats to ensure survival of host plant colonies.
|Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae [Linnaeus])
Wing span: 2 1/2 - 3 3/4 inches.
Identification: Upperside bright orange with black markings; 3 black-encircled white dots on forewing leading edge. Underside brown; forewing with orange at base; both wings with elongated, iridescent silver spots.
Life history: Males patrol for females, who lay eggs on many parts of the host plant. Caterpillars feed on most parts of the host. Adults overwinter in the south.
Flight: Throughout the year in south Florida and South Texas, January-November in the north. Number of broods has not been determined.
Caterpillar hosts: Various species of passion-vine including maypops (Passiflora incarnata) and running pop (P. foetida).
Adult food: Nectar from lantana, shepherd's needle, cordias, composites, and others.
Habitat: Pastures, open fields, second-growth subtropical forest and edges, city gardens.
Range: South America north through Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies to the southern United States. Wanders north to the central United States; rare northward.
Management needs: Cultivate host plants.