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The King of the Butterflies

The Monarch Butterfly brings to mind images of cars, North America, and a very special Holiday.

Every year starting in May they arrive in Wisconsin to do what others before them have done, bring in the next generation. There are four generations per year and each generation has four stages in their life cycles.

They are a milkweed butterfly and have earned the name "King of the Butterlies". They are poisonous to birds who try to eat them, and their scientific name is "Danaus Plexippus".

The first stage- Eggs. A female Monarch will lay her eggs on the underside of a milkweed plant. Eggs take about 5 days to hatch.

Second Stage- Larvae. This is a critical time period for a future butterfly. The Monarch Caterpillar will eat nonstop on milkweed for the next 14 days in preparation for the next stage.

Third Stage- Pupa. Once a Monarch Caterpillar has reached it's full growth, it will find a safe place or the top of the enclosure to transform into a Chrysilis. They make a "J" and start to shake and wiggle around after making a secure silk button. This is the caterpillar shedding it's skin. It will look like a green blob and over the next several hours harden into a beautiful green Chrysilis.

Fourth Stage- Butterfly. About 10 days later the Chrysilis will turn almost black. You will be able to make out distinguishing features of the wings if you look closely. Monarchs will hatch in the early morning hours. It will take about 4 hours for the wings to fully dry, get blood flow, and expand. The butterfly is then ready to be released or will fly away if out in nature.

(Female Monarch)

(Male Monarch)

Unfortunately Monarch Butterflies are endangered due to loss of habitat, pesticides, & natural predators such as Tachid Flies.