Monarch Butterfly Facts

The monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, is unique in the insect world for its annual migration. Monarchs that breed in eastern North America migrate up to 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) to wintering sites in Mexico. Monarchs that breed in western North America migrate to the California coast for the winter.

The monarch's wingspan is about 3.5 to 4 inches. The average monarch weighs 500 mg, about the same as a paperclip.

The monarch lives for only 2-6 weeks during the breeding season. During the wintering season, monarchs can live up to 8 months.

Adult monarch butterflies eat nectar. They are generalists and can feed from a variety of different kinds of flowers. Monarch caterpillars are specialists and eat only milkweed.

Monarch Butterfly
Danaus plexippus

Animal kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Genus: Danaus
Species: D. plexippus