Monarch Butterfly
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Danaus plexippus

Habitat

Shrub-steppe
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Riparian
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Grassland
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Wetland
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Status

Endangered (Federal)
Red List (Provincial)

Description

The Monarch is a bright orange butterfly with heavy black veins and a wide black border containing two rows of white spots. The wingspan is about 10 cm. Monarch larvae or caterpillars are striped yellow, black, and white and grow to about 5 cm in length.

The Monarch butterfly is sometimes confused with the Swallowtail family of butterflies due to their similar striped pattern, however Swallowtails are various shades of yellow, while Monarchs are always bright orange.

This species exists wherever milkweed and wildflowers (such as goldenrod, asters, and purple loosestrife) are present. Sites containing these plants include abandoned farmland, along roadsides, and other open spaces.

The majority of Monarch Butterflies are found east of the Rocky Mountains and only a few are naturally found in BC

Threats

-Use of herbicides (kills the milkweed needed by the caterpillar and the wildflowers needed by the adults)
-Destruction and degratation of habitat from agricultural and urban development
-Climate change

You Can Help!

-Allow native wildflowers to grow on your land (milkweed, goldenrod, asters, and other wildflowers)
-Decrease herbicide use
-Protect and conserve wildlife habitat

Resources

Photo: Ryan Hagerty USFWS
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Photo: Ryan Hagerty USFWS
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