Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Picture Notes: On 09/22/2011, while on a hike to Wheeler Pass with the rock-hounds from the Henderson Heritage Park Senior Center, I was lucky enough to capture this picture of a Monarch Butterfly. Though they are quite common, and I have seen quite a few during my hikes, this is the first time one landed long enough for me to get a good picture. As a couple of us were walking back along the access road, he flew across the road and landed on this beautiful patch of what I think is Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus or yellow Rabbitbrush, that was about thirty feet or so off the side of the road. Luckily she stayed long enough for me to switch out lenses and put on my 200mm telephoto lens, enabling me to capture this photo.
Description: The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is perhaps the best known of all North American butterflies. Its wings feature an easily recognizable orange and black pattern/ The female Monarchs have darker veins on their wings, and the males have a spot called the “androconium'” in the center of each hind wing from which pheromones are released. When secreted they triggers a social response in in females. Males are also slightly larger. E-P1070106-2
The Monarch’s wingspan ranges from 3½–4 inches. The upper side of the wings are a tawny-orange, the veins and margins are black, and in the margins are two series of small white spots. The fore wings also have a few orange spots near the tip. The underside is similar but the tip of the fore wing and hind wing are yellow-brown instead of tawny-orange and the white spots are larger. Like most insects the Monarch has six legs, however it only uses four of its legs, carrying its two front legs against its body.
The Monarch is famous for its southward migration and northward return in summer from Canada to Mexico and Baja California which spans the life of three to four generations of the butterfly. The monarch is the only butterfly that migrates both north and south like birds. as the birds do on a regular basis. By the end of October, the population west of the Rocky Mountains overwinters in various sites in central coastal and southern California, most notably in Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz.