Monarchs and Milkweed - Monarch Butterfly


Monarchs and Milkweed
A Vital Food Supply

 

 

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"The Milkweed Butterfly"

Monarchs remain a common sight throughout the U.S. and Canada due to the continued abundance of the milkweed, the only food monarch caterpillars eat.

This may seem like a restricted diet, but there are over a hundred species of milkweed in North America.

Milkweed is notorious for its digitalis-like toxin that is harmful to many animals, including humans. As caterpillars, monarchs ingest these poisons, store them in their own tissues, and retain them through their metamorphosis as an adult.

Essentially, the monarchs are taking the plant's protection and using it as their own against predators, such as birds.

A bird that eats a monarch will not die, but it will become quite ill. As a result, birds learn to avoid anything colored orange and black.

Other non-poisonous insects have adapted the same coloration since, in the animal world, orange and black acts as a universal "Toxic: Do Not Eat" warning.

Monarchs originally were a tropical species which gradually moved north after the last ice age to take advantage of an increased food supply in the United States.

But after spending summer in the States, the animals depart until their staple food, milkweed, is available again the following spring.

Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle

Monarch Migration Patterns 

Monarchs in Mexico


Where To See Migrating Monarchs

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