Sunday, January 8, 2012

Male and Female Monarch Butterflies

Today's lesson is how to tell the difference between male and female Monarch Butterflies. It is not too hard really. It is best to observe the butterfly when it first emerges from the Chrysalis, when the wings are beginning to harden, but the butterfly is still not able to make an escape. The wings are the key to finding out the sex of the butterfly. The Monarch butterfly has black veins, white spots, and orange as the background color. On the back of the wing (you will notice this when the wing is fluttering open, then closed), there will be a black spot on the lower wing in the middle. That is the male Monarch. It has this spot because it is actually a pocket gland full of a scent that the male will dip his leg into to entice the female to him. The female Monarch does not have this pocket on her lower back wings. You can also notice the female butterfly tip her abdomen underneath the leaves of the milkweed plant to lay her eggs. I have seen this myself and I always know when to expect more baby Monarch caterpillars (within 2 to 3 days). Be careful when handling butterflies, because their wings are made of scales, which will come off easily. The loss of these scales makes it more difficult for the butterfly to fly and thrive.

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