Steven Cheshire's British Butterflies
British Butterflies: Species: Species Account - The Monarch:
Monarch
Danaus plexippus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Monarch egg.
ova
  Monarch caterpillar.
larva
  Monarch chrysalis
pupa
Monarch
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Nomenclature
Insecta: Lepidoptera : Family Nymphalidae: Subfamily Danainae : Genus Danaus: Species plexippus:
Description
The Monarch also known as The Milkweed because of its larval food plant is a large distinctive deep orange butterfly with distinctive black veins and borders to its wing. It is a species famed for its unbelievable migrations in North America and its communal over wintering sites in Mexico.
Habitat
In Britain there is no natural breeding habitat due to the absence of the larval food plant. The occasional rare migrant tends to occur in coastal areas especially in places rich in nectar sources such as gardens.

In North America, it breeds in flower habitats such as pasture, meadows and waste ground where the larval food plant occurs.
Distribution
The Monarch is a rare migrant in the UK. Many of the sightings are thought to be of individuals crossing the Atlantic from central and north-east America assisted by weather patterns which carry some individuals away from their normal migration routes between Mexico Florida and the east and west coasts of North America.

A breeding population of Monarch butterflies occurs on the Azores Canary Islands, Madeira, southern Spain, and Gibraltar and it is now thought that the majority of the individuals seen in the UK are more likely to originate from these areas rather than from across the Atlantic.

Even if conditions suited the Monarch in the UK, the absence of the larval food plant means that this species cannot breed here.
Where to see the Monarch in the British Isles
The Monarch is a rare migrant in the UK. Many of the sightings are thought to be of individuals crossing the Atlantic from central and north-east America assisted by weather patterns which carry some individuals away from their normal migration routes between Mexico Florida and the east and west coasts of North America.

A breeding population of Monarch butterflies occurs on the Azores Canary Islands, Madeira, southern Spain, and Gibraltar and it is now thought that the majority of the individuals seen in the UK are more likely to originate from these areas rather than from across the Atlantic.

Even if conditions suited the Monarch in the UK, the absence of the larval food plant means that this species cannot breed here.
Other notes
28-09-11 - Monarch seen by Shelley Cunningham and Shane Austin feeding on Buddleia at Ringstead Bay, Dorset.

09-10-06 - Monarch at Starr Castle St. Mary's on Isles of Scilly.
07-10-06 - 2 Monarchs. One on Tresco and one on the Isle of Wight - No further details available.
06-10-06 - Monarch at Garrison at the Lower Broome platform near Morning Point, St. Mary's on Isles of Scilly.
04-10-06 - Monarch seen feeding on Buddleia in Salcombe Devon (Grid ref: SX736384) by Jeremy Burgess.
Lifecycle chart
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Flight chart
JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
The lifecycle and flight charts should be regarded as approximate guides to the Monarch in Britain. Specific lifecycle states, adult emergence and peak flight times vary from year to year due to variations in weather conditions.
IUCN category status 2010 5   IUCN category status 2007 34
--awaiting data-- --awaiting data--

5Fox, R., Warren, M., Brereton, T. M., Roy, D. B. & Robinson, A.
(2010) A new Red List of British Butterflies. Insect Conservation and Diversity.
Not Applicable Not Applicable

3Fox, R., Warren, M & Brereton, T.
(2007) New Red List of British Butterflies. Butterfly Conservation, Wareham.

4More information about IUCN categories.
Wingspan
105-112mm
UK status
Rare Migrant
Larval foodplants
The primary larval food plants of the Monarch are Milkweeds of the genus Asclepias. These plants do not occur naturally in Britain and are not widely cultivated in any way.

European breeding colonies use Asclepias curassavica which has become naturalised in some areas.
Butterflies of Britain ID Chart
Your personal guide to British Butterflies. This 8-panel laminated chart is designed for speedy butterfly identification in the field. Ideal for anyone interested in identifying butterflies, perfect for children and adults and ideal for outdoor use, laminated, shower-proof and robust. Get your copy today.
Butterflies of Britain (Laminated ID Chart).
Online store
Visit our online store for many more butterfly related books and gifts.
Population trends 1
UK Population trend 1995-2004 not applicable
UK Population trend 1976-2004 not applicable

1Fox, R., Asher. J., Brereton. T., Roy, D & Warren, M. (2006) The State of Butterflies in Britain & Ireland, Pices, Oxford.
UK BAP status 2
UK BAP status not applicable (link)

2For information about the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, visit the JNCC web site jncc.defra.gov.uk.

National Biodiversity Network Gateway
National Biodiversity Network Gateway Distribution Map



Areas in and indicate a contraction in distribution of the Monarch except in Ireland where data is only available up until 1999.

* Records shown in outside the natural distribution may be the result of illegal or accidental releases by breeders or, depending upon the species, migrant individuals from mainland Europe.

Key to map*
= 2000 to 2010 inclusive (current distribution)
= records from 1950 to 1999 inclusive
= records from 1900 to 1949 inclusive
Records prior to 1st January 1900 are not shown.

The NBN Gateway records are shown on the map right. (See terms and conditions).

More data is available on the Monarch on the NBN Gateway web site.
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References
For full details of books and reports mentioned on this web site, view the references page.

Find out more online*
Monarch can be found on Peter Eeles excellent UK Butterflies web site.
Monarch can be found on Matt Rowlings excellent European Butterflies web site.

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Photographs of the Monarch
There are 0 photographs of the Monarch in our stock photo library.