Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus L. (Lepidoptera: Danaidae)

  • Thomas C. Emmel
  • Andrei Sourakov
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_4668

The monarch is one of the world’s best-known butterflies. Its distribution is among the widest for any butterfly species. Not only it is found throughout the Americas, including the islands of the West Indies, but it reaches as far as Australia and New Guinea, and occasional individuals migrate to Western Europe.

The monarch butterfly is native to tropical America where populations breed throughout the year. These sedentary populations are different from the migratory North American ones and bear separate names. For example subspecies, megalippe Hübner is found in Mexico and Central America and southeastern United States. The southern South American subspecies is called menippe Hübner. Several subspecies have also been described from the islands in the Caribbean. None of these geographic races are “pure,” with occasional individuals of the migratory subspecies phenotype, D. plexippus plexippus, found in all of them. It has even been suggested, yet not proven, that sedentary subspecies...

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References

  1. Ackery P, Vane-Wright RI (1984) Milkweed butterflies: their cladistics and biology. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 425 ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Browser LP (1995) Understanding and misunderstanding the migration of the monarch butterfly (Nymphalidae) in North America 1857–1995. J Lepidopterists Soc 49:304–385Google Scholar
  3. Browser LP (1996) Monarch butterfly orientation: missing pieces of a magnificent puzzle. J Exp Biol 199:93–103Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas C. Emmel
    • 1
  • Andrei Sourakov
    • 1
  1. 1.University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA