Monarch Butterflies

monarch butterfly

If you live on the east coast of Australia like me, you’ve probably started seeing these little beauties as we move towards summer – Monarch butterflies.

Unmistakable in their colourings of white, black and orange, these butterflies are famously known for their mass migration.

monarch butterfly

The Monarch butterfly, also known as the Wanderer butterfly, comes from America and is only a fairly recent arrival here in Australia. According to the Australian Museum website, the first recorded sightings of a Monarch butterfly was in Sydney in 1871. And this happens to coincide with the introduction of the milkweed plant in the country as well.

We have a little patch of Tropical Milkweed, on our property. It thrives all year round here in Queensland and I often see ladybirds feasting on the aphids on it. Now I am also seeing the Monarch butterflies laying their eggs on the leaves and then the caterpillars eating the leaves.

monarch butterfly on milkweed

monarch caterpillar on milkweed

The big, fat juicy looking Monarch caterpillars are quite noticeable in their bright colours, a warning to potential predators. Interestingly, the caterpillar and butterfly are toxic, but it has been noted that the Black Faced Cuckoo Shrikes and Pied Currawongs are the only animals in Australia that have been observed eating them.

monarch caterpillar

 

monarch butterfly

Have you seen Monarch butterflies at your place?

11 thoughts on “Monarch Butterflies

  1. Adelaide has had very cold and wet weather this year but the sun showed it’s face a week or so ago and I saw one Monarch. I’ve had the Swanbush in my garden for a few years but the plant eventually died so this year I have about 6 young plants and I’m hoping the butterflies will come back. Your photos certainly show their beauty.

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  2. .Wonderful macros Sue, it is an amazing migration, I have seen pics of millions of the adults in Yellowstone NP in USA, and I can remember as a young boy seeing the butterfies fly in from over the ocean over the beach where I lived, many with damaged wings.

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    1. Thanks Ashley. The monarchs are an incredible species. It would be awesome to see them flying in such huge numbers. I imagine it’s a sight you would never forget.

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  3. Fascinating post, I had no idea the Monarch butterfly was introduced there. We are in the midst of their annual migration south to Mexico. You have likely heard we are seeing fewer Monarchs as their habitat disappears. Communities along their route have begun efforts to plant milkweed and bring them back. I’ve seen just one in my garden this week though there have been good signs that their numbers are higher this year. Just curious, do the Monarchs migrate or stay put in your mild climate?

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    1. Interesting question Shirley – as far as I know, the monarchs stay in Australia but may move between states to avoid colder areas. I believe there are studies being done now to find out exactly where they all go in wintertime.

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