Monarch butterfly

The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae), in the family Nymphalidae. It is perhaps the best known of all North American butterflies. Since the 19th century, it has been found in New Zealand, and in Australia since 1871, where it is called the wanderer.[3][4][5] It is resident in the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira, and is found as an occasional migrant in Western Europe and a rare migrant in the United Kingdom.[6] Its wings feature an easily recognizable orange and black pattern, with a wingspan of 8.9–10.2 cm (3?–4 in).[7] (The viceroy butterfly is similar in color and pattern, but is markedly smaller, and has an extra black stripe across the hind wing.) Female monarchs have darker veins on their wings, and the males have a spot called the androconium in the center of each hind wing.[8] Males are also slightly larger than female monarchs. The monarch is famous for its southward migration and northward return in summer from Canada to Mexico and Baja California which spans the life of three to four generations of the butterfly. The common name “monarch” was first published in 1874 by Samuel H. Scudder because “it is one of the largest of our butterflies, and rules a vast domain”;[9] however, the name may be in honour of King William III of England.[10] The monarch was one of the many species originally named by Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae of 1758. It was first placed in the genus Papilio.[11] In 1780, Jan Krzysztof Kluk used the monarch as the type species for a new genus; Danaus. Danaus (Greek ), a great-grandson of Zeus, was a mythical king in Egypt or Libya, who founded Argos; Plexippus was one of the 50 sons of Aegyptus, the twin brother of Danaus.[12] The monarch is closely related to two very similar species which formed the Danaus (Danaus) subgenus before 2005. The first is the Jamaican monarch (D. cleophile) from Jama

ca and Hispaniola. The second is the southern monarch (D. erippus), of South America south of the Amazon river. The southern monarch is almost indistinguishable from the monarch as an adult, though the pupae are somewhat different, and is often considered a subspecies of the monarch proper. But analysis of morphological, mtDNA 12S rRNA, cytochrome c oxidase subunit I, nuclear DNA 18S rRNA and EF1 subunit ? sequence data by Smith et al. (2005) indicates it is better considered a distinct species. The separation of the monarch and southern monarch is comparatively recent. In all likelihood, the ancestors of the southern monarch separated from the monarch's population some 2 mya, at the end of the Pliocene. At the time, sea levels were higher and the entire Amazonas lowland was a vast expanse of brackish swamp that offered hardly any butterfly habitat.The monarch’s wingspan ranges from 8.9–10.2 cm (3?–4 in).[7] The upper side of the wings is tawny-orange, the veins and margins are black, and in the margins are two series of small white spots. The fore wings also have a few orange spots near the tip. The underside is similar, but the tip of the fore wing and hind wing are yellow-brown instead of tawny-orange and the white spots are larger.[15] The male has a black patch of androconial scales on either hind wing (in some butterflies, these patches disperse pheromones, but are not known to do so in monarchs), and the black veins on its wing are narrower than the female’s. The male is also slightly larger.[15] A color variation has been observed in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and the United States as early as the late 19th century. Named nivosus by lepidopterists, it is grayish-white in all areas of the wings that are normally orange. Generally, it is only about 1% or less of all monarchs, but has maintained populations as high as 10% on Oahu in Hawaii, possibly due to selective predation.