monarch butterfly


monarch butterfly

noun

: a large orange and black American butterfly

Full Definition of MONARCH BUTTERFLY

:  a large migratory American butterfly (Danaus plexippus) that has orange-brown wings with black veins and borders and a larva that feeds on milkweed

Illustration of MONARCH BUTTERFLY

First Known Use of MONARCH BUTTERFLY

1890

monarch butterfly

noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Species (Danaus plexippus, family Danaidae) of milkweed butterfly, occurring worldwide but mainly in the Americas. It is the only lepidopteran species to make a true migration (a two-way flight by the same individual). In North America, thousands of monarchs gather in autumn, migrate southward, sometimes more than 1,800 mi (2,900 km), and return north in spring. The distinctive coloration of the adult's wings (reddish brown, with black veins, a black border, and two rows of spots) warns predators of its bad taste. Several other species derive protection by mimicking its coloration.

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