Monarch butterfly is considered to be one of the most widely recognized butterfly species in the world. Monarch butterfly is native to North American countries. This insect species can travel up to 3000 miles before it over winters to Canada or Mexico.
The habitat of monarch butterflies
Geographically speaking, these insects are considered to be an American butterfly. They spend their winter on the Northern American countries such as Canada and Mexico.
As far as their host plant is concerned, milkweed or Asclepias syriaca is the primary host of this butterfly species. Even though milkweed is poisonous for other animals, monarch butterfly caterpillars store the poison of the plant to their body to wad-off predators.
What do monarch butterflies eat?
The larval stage of a monarch butterfly is spent feeding on a plant species called milkweed. Milkweed is a poisonous plant to some animals. Monarch butterfly caterpillars take advantage of this poisonous substance and use it to drive away potential predators. Adult monarch butterflies on the other hand, consume nectar of flowers as a source of its nutrition. Adult females will return to places where there are good source of milkweed and will lay their eggs there. This will ensure continuous source of food supply for the young caterpillars.
Monarch butterflies can reproduce up to four generations during summer. The only the fourth generation will be able to continue the journey moving north. The last generation can live up to nine months overwintering to Mexico or South California.
Threats to monarch butterfly populations
Scientists predict that because of the climate change, places that are experiencing colder climates will experience wetter winter. If the winter is dry, monarch butterflies can live even if the temperature is below zero. But if these insects get wet with that kind of temperature, majority of this butterfly species will be frozen to death. This phenomenon is considered to be the most serious problem that monarch butterflies face nowadays.
Other problems such as environmental degradation, habitat loss, milkweed extinction and the use of genetically modified crops such as Bt Corn are issues that concerns monarch butterfly population.