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A lovely little Monarch butterfly making a soft landing on the cone flowers.
The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae), in the family Nymphalidae. It is perhaps the best known of all North American butterflies. Since the 19th century, it has been found in New Zealand, and in Australia since 1871, where it is called the wanderer. It is resident in the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira, and is found as an occasional migrant in Western Europe and a rare migrant in the United Kingdom. Its wings feature an easily recognizable orange and black pattern, with a wingspan of 8.9 10.2 cm (3 4 in). (The viceroy butterfly is similar in color and pattern, but is markedly smaller, and has an extra black stripe across the hind wing.) Female monarchs have darker veins on their wings, and the males have a spot called the "androconium" in the center of each hind wing from which pheromones are released. Males are also slightly larger than female monarchs.
The monarch is famous for its southward migration and northward return in summer from Canada to Mexico and Baja California which spans the life of three to four generations of the butterfly.
The common name monarch was first published in 1874 by Samuel H. Scudder because it is one of the largest of our butterflies, and rules a vast domain;however, the name may be in honour of King William III of England.
June 20th, 2012
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