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May 2009 - Monarch Butterfly
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Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus
Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus
With its orange and black-patterned wings, the Monarch is perhaps one of the most widely recognized butterflies in the world. It is found almost around the globe: the Americas, Asia, Australasia and parts of western Europe. The larvae (caterpillar) of the Monarch feeds exclusively on milkweeds.

Female Monarchs tend to have darker veins than males, and the latter also has a spot in the centre of each of its hind wings from which pheromones (chemicals used to attract a mate) are released. The wingspan of these lovely insects is 3.5-4 in/9-10 cm.
 
Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus
Monarchs are noted for their amazing migrations. In North America, for example, they migrate north and in August start migrate south again. The life-span of the butterfly is only two months so no butterfly actually completes the entire migration. It is the second or third generation of butterflies which return to the original point of departure.

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