S1 The life cycle of a monarch butterfly, scientifically known as Danaus plexippus, consists of four distinct stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), and adult. This process is known as complete metamorphosis.
Page 2 The Egg Stage
S2 Egg: The life cycle begins when a female monarch butterfly lays her eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves. Monarch butterflies are highly dependent on milkweed plants for their survival. The eggs are usually small, whitish, and spherical in shape. It takes about 3-5 days for the eggs to hatch.
Page 3 The Larva Stage
S3 Larva (Caterpillar): Once the egg hatches, a tiny caterpillar emerges. The caterpillar goes through five growth stages known as instars. Initially, it is very small, but it grows rapidly during each instar by feeding voraciously on milkweed leaves. The caterpillar has a characteristic striped appearance, with black, yellow, and white bands. It takes approximately 2-3 weeks for the caterpillar to reach its full size.
Page 4 The Pupa Stage
S4 Pupa (Chrysalis): After the final instar, the caterpillar attaches itself to a suitable surface, such as a branch or a leaf, and forms a chrysalis. The chrysalis is a hard, protective case that encloses the caterpillar's body. Inside the chrysalis, the caterpillar undergoes a remarkable transformation. The body breaks down into a liquid and reorganizes into the adult butterfly. This stage typically lasts around 10-14 days, but it can vary depending on environmental conditions.
Page 5 The Adult Stage
S5 Adult: Once the transformation is complete, a beautiful adult butterfly emerges from the chrysalis. At first, the wings are small and crumpled, but they gradually expand and become functional as fluid is pumped into them. The adult butterfly is characterized by its vibrant orange wings with black veins and white spots. Monarch butterflies are capable of flying long distances and can migrate thousands of kilometers to warmer regions for the winter. They engage in mating and reproduce, starting the life cycle anew
Page 6 Gardening practices damaging the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly
S6Certain insecticides and pesticides can harm the life cycle of monarch butterflies. One specific class of chemicals known to be particularly detrimental to monarchs are neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are systemic insecticides commonly used in agriculture and can be absorbed by plant tissues, including nectar and pollen. Here are some specific neonicotinoid insecticides that have been associated with harming monarch butterflies:
These neonicotinoids can be found in various products used for agricultural purposes, as well as in commercial and residential insecticides. When monarch butterflies feed on plants treated with neonicotinoids, it can interfere with their development, reproduction, and overall survival. It's worth noting that the use of neonicotinoids has been a subject of concern due to their impact on pollinators, including monarch butterflies, as well as other beneficial insects. Efforts are being made to regulate or restrict the use of these chemicals to protect pollinator populations. Additionally, there are alternative pest management practices that can be employed to minimize the impact on monarch butterflies and other beneficial insects, such as integrated pest management (IPM) strategies.
Some brand names of insecticides that contain Neonicotinoids are: