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Monarch Butterfly - Research Paper Example

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Introduction Monarch butterflies are a species that keeps many mysteries in its life about which humans marvel. They are very beautiful with bright orange, black and white shades on its wings and considered by many as the king of butterflies (Frost, 10). The large orange wings are veined and outlined in black, with white dots decorating the black outer edges of each wing…
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Monarch Butterfly

Download file to see previous pages... Butterflies and moths belong to the order, Lepidoptera (Capinera, 628). The special characteristics of this order are the presence of a “complete, holometabolous life cycle, with separate egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages” (Capinera, 631). And this is why butterflies are classified under this order. A Monarch butterfly has also a similar wing span which comes to “3.5 to 4 inches” (Garber, 76). Another common feature of the members of Lepidoptera order is that all of them have “four wings and also scales covering at leats some body parts (Capinera, 631). In Monarch butterflies, the scales are seen “as a patch near the central veins of the hindwings” (Capinera, 631). There are two subspecies in Monarch butterfly (Oberhauser and Solensky, 1). The species, Danaus plexippus plexippus, is found in “Southern Canada, the USA, Mexico, most Caribbean Islands, Central America and northern South America” (Oberhauser and Solensky, 1). The second subspecies, Danaus plexippus erippus is seen in “Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Eastern Brazil” (Oberhauser and Solensky, 1). Monarch butterflies are cold-blooded insects (Learner.org). So they are comfortable in cool climates as in such an atmosphere, they do not need to spend much energy (Learner.org). It can be seen that “the body of the caterpillar will be covered with nine brown rings aside from black head and it features three pairs of ‘true’ legs with claws attached and five pairs of prolegs that extend backwards” (Monarch-Butterfly.com). To differentiate a female monarch butterfly from a male, one has to look for a simple identification mark -“the male monarchs have a black spot on each of the hind wings over a vein. The female monarch butterfly does not have this spot” (Monarch-Butterfly.com). In one year, four generations of monarch butterflies complete their life cycle (Monarch-Butterfly.com). The life cycle of a monarch butterfly on the other hand includes four stages, namely, the egg, the larvae, the pupa and the butterfly (Monarch-Butterfly.com). The annual life cycle of this majestic insect can be considered to begin in the months of February and March when they mate (Monarch-Butterfly.com). After mating, the butterflies migrate to the Northern and Eastern parts of North America and lay their eggs there in the months of March and April (Monarch-Butterfly.com). It is on the milkweed plant that the Monarch butterflies lay their white eggs (Monarch-Butterfly.com). The eggs will be seen on the undersides of milkweed leaves, usually near the top of the plant. Each female butterfly lay “several hundred eggs” and the eggs hatch in four days (Monarch-Butterfly.com). There are many invertebrate predators that feed on Monarch eggs and larvae like, red velvet spider mite (Oberhauser and Solensky, 6). The caterpillar is herbivore and feeds only on milkweed leaves for two weeks and then attach to a small stem or a leaf of the plant and starts metamorphosing into the pupa stage (Monarch-Butterfly.com). Because of the insistence of the caterpillars on eating only the milkweeds, Monarch butterflies gained another name, the “milkweed butterfly” (Monarch-Butterfly.com). The caterpillars are only “about 0.1 inches long” weighing 0.55 grams (Monarch-Butterfly.com). Caterpillars have alternating bands of yellow, white, and black, on their body with a black stripe between pairs of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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