Friday Fun Fact – Monarch Butterflies in Australia

We are proud to say we now have Monarch butterflies in Australia … more specifically, we have Monarch butterflies here at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary! This photo is of the first Monarch butterfly to be bred at the Butterfly Sanctuary … ever! Monarch butterflies are one of the most well-known butterflies in the world. They originated in North America and were introduced into Australia in the 1870s. These butterflies migrate to warmer climates at the end of summer and diapause through the winter months. Millions, if not billions, of the monarch butterflies migrate from Canada to Mexico every fall. The life span of the winter generations can be as long as 8 months. The summer generations are much more active and only live around 5 weeks. The female Monarch will lay between 290 to 1180 eggs over her life, and eggs take 3 to 8 days to develop into the caterpillar. Caterpillars eat for 4 weeks; the host plant is Milkweed or Swan plant. Milkweed is named for its milky sap, which consists of a latex containing alkaloids and several other complex compounds including cardenolides. This makes the caterpillars and butterflies poisonous, but only if you eat them! (We have posted information about poisonous butterflies before on our Facebook page). The caterpillar then spins a silk pad, hangs upside down and forms a beautiful green chrysalis that takes 8-10 days to change into a butterfly.