I was curious about Monarchs and here's what I found out:
- Monarchs weigh between 0.25 to 0.75 grams (for reference, a paper clip weighs 1 gram).
- A black spot on an inside surface of the hind wing distinguishes male Monarch butterflies from the females who have no such spot.
- Females lay their eggs on milkweed leaves.
- Monarch butterflies store a poison called Cardiac Glycosides that they ingest by feeding on the leaves of the milkweed foliage in their larva stage. These toxins provide the butterflies with a poisonous defense against predators such as lizards, birds, and frogs.
- Monarchs use their eyes to locate flowers, their antennas to smell the nectar, and minute receptors lodged in their feet to taste sweet substances.
- Adult monarchs feed on nectar and water by sipping on it using a sucking tube called proboscis that lies coiled under the head when not in use.
- The life cycle is constituted by 4 generations of Monarchs that complete 4 unique phases in one year. The fourth generation are the only ones that migrate.
- Monarch wings flap slower than other butterflies at about 300 to 720 times a minute.
- They fly at speeds ranging between 12 to 25 miles an hour. The butterflies use updrafts of warm air to preserve the energy required for the long migration to the warm Central Mexican Oyamel fir forests in the Michoacán hills.
- In 1986 the Mexican authorities converted 62 square miles of forests in the Sierra Madres to the now renowned Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, home to hundreds of millions of Monarch butterflies during winter. The government further extended the reserve area to an area of 217 acres in the year 2000.
Facts from: http://www.monarch-butterfly.com
And to note - Monarchs are being considered for placement on the endangered species list.