T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Caterpillar of the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Papilionoidea
Family: Nymphalidae
Subfamily: Danainae
Tribe: Danaini
Genus: Danaus
Species: D. plexippu
Scientific Name: Danaus plexippus
Common Name: Monarch Butterfly

The monarch arrived in New Zealand about 120 years` ago crossing the Pacific from North America. It is New Zealans largest resident butterfly. Its caterpillars food is the Swan plant ( Gomphocarpus) . Their live cycle is two weeks as a caterpillar, two weeks as a chrysalis and about two months as a butterfly. 
Female Monarchs have darker veins on their wings, and the males have a black spot in the center of each hindwing from which pheromones are released. Males are also slightly larger. See photo at bottom of this page.

A monarch butterfly caterpillars



The caterpillar has just attached itself to a branch in preperation of forming a chrysalis

The next stage of forming a chrysalis

The monarch butterfly chrysalis

The monarch butterfly chrysalis with the developing butterfly's wing patterns just visable.

A chrysalis on a swan plant

Mating butterflies.

The butterfly of Danaus plexippus male . Notice the black pheromone releasing spot on each hind wing.