Scientific name: Danaus plexippus Linnaeus

I am the monarch butterfly! I am found all throughout the United States and even southern Canada. I am most well-known for the yearly trip back and forth (called a migration) that I make every fall and spring. Monarchs in Nevada and other western states head to the coast of California, but those in the east head all the way to central Mexico. When we arrive, we hang from trees in big numbers, waiting until spring to head north. We do this to avoid cold weather, returning in spring when the plants we need begin to grow again.
Why am I important?

Though it is a very large and pretty butterfly, there are many dangers to monarchs. In California and Mexico, houses and farming remove plants the monarch needs for food, and trees the monarch needs to live on during the winter. In Nevada, houses and farms take away milkweed plants the caterpillars need. Because monarchs need milkweed, it is very important to save places that have milkweed plants, and you can help by planting milkweed in your yard to attract monarchs! Scientists have also learned that monarchs can be harmed by pesticides, chemicals that are used to protect plants from being eaten by different types of insects.
What is my life cycle?

  1. Egg - Like all butterflies, monarchs start out as small eggs laid under a leaf. Monarchs have to find just the right type of plant - called a milkweed - for the caterpillars to eat. No other plants will do!
  2. Caterpillar - After the caterpillar hatches from the egg, it eats leaves for three weeks, growing to almost 2 inches long.
  3. Chrysalis - After growing to full size, the caterpillar turns into a pupa, called a chrysalis, bright-green with gold spots.
  4. Adult - The monarch adult comes out of the chrysalis after 10 days. As an adult, the monarch looks for milkweed to lay eggs on, repeating the cycle.

 

Burls, K., Newton, J. 2015, Kids Know Nevada Insects: Monarch Butterfly, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, IP

Authors of this scholarly work are no longer available.

Please contact Extension's Communication Team for assistance.

 

Also of Interest:

 
Plant Disease Management
Plant disease management, like most pest management, is based on several important principles. These are the basic principles of plant disease management
Hefner, M. 2019, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno. IP
Tips for a Healthy Lawn
Follow these tips to conserve water, crowd out weeds, and grow a thick, green lawn.
Hefner, M. 2019, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno. IP
Tips for Building a Healthy Soil
Soil is the foundation for your plants. Focus on building a healthy soil, and your plants will benefit.
Hefner, M. 2019, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno. IP
Tips for Healthy Landscape Trees
A mature tree adds value, shade and beauty to the landscape. Keep trees healthy by following these tips:
Hefner, M. 2019, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno. IP
Master Gardeners learning with training activity
What do Master Gardeners do anyway?
The Master Gardener program has a little for everyone and serves Washoe County through the Cooperative Extension horticulture office in Reno.
Fisher, J. 2017, Reno Gazette Journal