#CreatureFeature: Danaus plexippus (Wanderer / Monarch Butterfly)

Adult Wanderer Butterflies are orange-brown with black wing veins and a black and white spotted band along the edge of the wings.

The wanderer is easily identified with black, white and yellow stripes across its body and black tentacles. There are two pairs of tentacles, the longer pair located at the front of the body and a shorter pair on the eighth body segment.

First found in Sydney in 1871, Wanderer butterflies can now be found in every state and territory of Australia. They feed on Milkweed plants meaning they common in urban areas where Milkweeds regularly thrive.

Milkweed contains poisonous sap which protects the butterflies from predators, making them extremely distasteful to ingest. The toxins in Milkweed are carried through many life cycle stages, causing illness for some predators.

In April, male Wanderer butterflies form clusters which remain until September. Females arrive last to these clusters where they mate with the males and then disperse to lay their eggs onto Milkweed plants. After their eggs hatch, caterpillars will feed for about two weeks before pupating for three weeks. It is then that the caterpillar remerges as a butterfly and starts the cycle again.

Source: https://australian.museum/learn/animals/insects/wanderer-butterfly/

Jarna Kendle – Senior Biodiversity Officer

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