Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
The Monarch is a milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae), in the family Nymphalidae. It is perhaps the best known of all butterflies. It is also found in New Zealand and Australia, where it is also known as the wanderer butterfly. In Europe it is resident in the Canary Islands and Madeira, and is found as a migrant in Russia, Azores, Sweden and Spain. Its wings feature an easily recognizable orange and black pattern, with a wingspan of 8.9 10.2 centimetres (3.5 - 4 in). Female monarchs have darker veins on their wings, and the males have a black patch of sex-scales in the center of each hindwing from which pheromones are released. Males are also slightly larger.
Monarch butterflies are one of the few insects capable of making transatlantic crossings. They are becoming more common in Bermuda due to increased usage of milkweed as an ornamental plant in flower gardens. A few monarchs turn up in the far southwest of Great Britain in years when the wind conditions are right. Monarchs can also be found in New Zealand and in Hawaii.
Monarch butterflies are poisonous or distasteful to birds because of milkweed poison stored by the caterpillar stage; their bright colors are warning colors. During hibernation monarch butterflies sometimes suffer losses because hungry birds pick through them looking for the butterflies with the least amount of the poison onboard, but in the process killing those that they reject.
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