Monarch Butterfly Facts
Monarch Butterfly Facts

36 Brilliant Monarch Butterfly Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published November 19, 2019
  • Monarch butterflies migrate 3,000 miles each year, and they can travel as many as 100 miles per day. They use a combination of air currents and thermals to travel such long distances.[1]
  • Once a monarch butterfly hatches, it only lives for about 2 to 6 weeks.[1]
  • Monarch butterflies were the first butterflies to have their genome sequenced.[6]
  • Monarchs have been bred on the International Space Station.[6]
  • The monarch butterfly is the official state butterfly of seven states.[6]
  • Monarch Butterfly History
    The beautiful orange of the monarch butterfly so impressed early settlers that they named it "Monarch" after King William III, Prince of Orange
  • Monarch butterflies are named after King William III (aka Prince of Orange), who mentions their orange color.[1]
  • Monarchs are the only butterflies to make a two-way migration, like birds do.[5]
  • The farthest ranging monarch butterfly recorded traveled 265 miles—in one day.[5]
  • Scientists believe that monarchs use a combination of the earth's magnetic pull and the position of the sun to help them find their way during migration.[5]
  • Monarchs huddle together to stay warm. On one tree alone, tens of thousands of monarchs can cluster.[5]
  • Monarchs fly at a speed of about 5.5 mph (9 km/h). An average human jogs between 6–8 mph.[5]
  • Like all insects, monarch butterflies have six legs. However, its forelegs are vestigial, so it only uses its middle legs and hind legs.[5]
  • Monarch butterflies can fly as high as 10,000 feet.[1]
  • Monarch butterfly migration is instinctual. So, a butterfly may not live to make it back to its birthplace, but the butterflies born from its eggs will, even though they have never been there before.[1]
  • A black dot on the inside surface of a monarch's wings distinguishes the male monarch butterfly from the female, which has no spots.[2]
  • Male monarch butteflies
    Male monarch butterflies have two black dots on their hind wings and thinner black webbing within the wings

  • A male monarch courts a female by rubbing his antennae on her head and thorax.[2]
  • A monarch butterfly's wings flap slower than other butterflies' wings, at 300 to 720 times a minute.[2]
  • In Australia, monarch butterflies are also known as wanderer butterflies or milkweed butterflies.[2]
  • Because monarch caterpillars feed on milkweed plants, which are poisonous, monarchs become toxic to birds and other animals.[2]
  • The brain of a monarch butterfly is no larger than the head of a pin.[2]
  • Thousands of tiny, colorful scales cover the surface of a monarch's wing. Loss of these scales is what causes monarchs to lose their color.[2]
  • Monarchs eat and can gain about 2,700 times their original weight.[2]
  • Butterflies smell and taste with their antennae and legs.[2]
  • Monarch butterfly numbers have decline by 80% in the past decade.[8]
  • Most monarch butterflies raised in captivity lack the ability to migrate successfully.[8]
  • Monarch caterpillars breathe through holes in the sides of their bodies.[4]
  • Monarch Butterfly Trivia
    Do you love monarch butterflies as much as we do?

  • In 2002, a rainstorm with low temperatures killed as many as 250 million monarchs in Mexico. An estimated 80% of the butterflies died at one of their mountain sanctuaries.[4]
  • Since butterflies are so small, a mile is much farther for them than for people. A butterfly's nearly 3,000-mile migration is similar to a person traveling 275,000 miles, which is like circling the globe 11 times.[4]
  • Monarch Butterfly Migration
    The monarch butterfly migration is one the greatest events on Earth

  • Migrating monarchs can fly up to 30 miles per hour, which is about 3 times faster than humans can run.[4]
  • A female monarch carries up to 400 eggs. As she flies from leaf to leaf, she places only one or two eggs on each leaf.[4]
  • One threat to monarch caterpillars is the tachinid fly. These parasitic flies lay tiny eggs on monarch butterflies that burrow into the caterpillar and eat it from the inside out.[3]
  • Milkweed Facts
    Milkweed is poisonous, and when monarch caterpillars eat the plant, they become poisonous too
  • Because humans have destroyed so much milkweed, scientists believe that monarch butterflies could be extinct within the next 30 years.[1]
  • Monarch caterpillars have six pairs of tiny eyes, but they don't see very well.[4]
  • Male monarchs court female monarchs by rubbing his antennae on her head and thorax.[7]
  • One particularly gruesome disease monarch caterpillars can fall victim to is Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus, or black death. This virus causes the caterpillar to deflate, turn black, and then liquify.[3]
  • A small monarch caterpillar can eat one large milkweed leaf in less than 5 minutes.[1]

Suggested for you


Trending Now

Load More