The monarch butterfly, scientific name Danaus plexippus, is a brown-orange colour with black veins and black with white spots at the edge of its wings. Their wingspan is up to 9cm and their weight is less than a gram. At the caterpillar stage, they have yellow, white and black bands across their bodies.
In Australia, the monarch butterfly is found in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and, less commonly, in Victoria. The majority of North American butterflies live in the Rocky Mountains.
These strong fliers can cover large distance in their short lifetime. In the winter, North American butterflies make mass migrations of almost 5,000 kilometres to California and Mexico, while Australian butterflies make much smaller migrations.
As caterpillars, monarchs exist exclusively on milkweed plants. Adult monarchs feed on nectar and milkweed.
Male butterflies attract the female by releasing chemicals from their hind legs. Their striking orange wings alert predators to danger.
Threats to the monarch butterfly population include climate change, habitat destruction and pesticides that harm their vital source of food, the milkweed plants.
Scroll through the videos, photos and articles below to find out more about butterflies.
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