Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus
Diet of the Monarch Butterfly Larva
The Monarch butterfly larva feeds on
milkweeds. Some of their favorites are the Monarch
eriocarpa and the Narrow leaf
milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis. Milkweeds contain toxins
that make the adult poisonous to birds and other predators. Most
insects can eat the monarch without effect. They are preyed upon by
Stink bugs and Assassin bugs.
There are many kinds of milkweeds.
We usually have three species in stock. They are easy to grow and look
nice in a garden. Some of the reasons Monarch's are having problems is
the removal of native Milkweed species and the introduction of other
milkweed species into gardens.
The Monarch and Migration
Monarch butterfly is an amazing insect because it migrates. This is an
incredible feat as it is sensitive to temperatures, easily blown around
by the wind, and has to travel nearly two thousand miles to a place it
has never been. It also has a very rudimentary nervous system compared
to the vertebrates, like birds, that migrate. When temperatures begin
to drop in the US and Canada, these insects begin to head south to
their overwintering areas in Mexico and California. When temperatures
begin to rise again, the insects move north. Many butterflies are
tagged (photo above) by researchers who are trying to learn more about