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

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 (Asclepias physocarpa) . 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 spot in the center of each hindwing from which pheromones are released. Males are also slightly larger.

For information on pheromones visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pheromones

Danaus plexippus female (male photo below)

Danaus plexippus male . Notice the pheromone releasing spot on each hind wing.

Danaus plexippus (female)

Danaus plexippus ( female)

Sunlight shining through Danaus plexippus  partially translucent wings.

A male butterfly of a swan plant the favourite food of the caterpillar.

Danaus plexippus head ( female)

Butterflies mating.

A monarch butterfly caterpillar 

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

he next stage of forming a chrysalis.

The monarch butterfly chrysalis

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

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/