A monarch butterfly sucking at a fruit

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterflies perform one of the world's most spectacular, annual, long-distance migrations. As autumn approaches millions leave the breeding grounds in the north and head south to wintering grounds - although it is subsequent generations that complete the return journey in the spring. The monarch's orange colour is a warning for predators to stay away, as the chemicals they get from feeding on milkweed plants makes the butterflies poisonous.

Scientific name: Danaus plexippus

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Milkweed butterfly,
  • Wanderer butterfly

Watch video clips from past programmes (2 clips)

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Distribution

The Monarch butterfly can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, North America, South America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.

Habitats

The following habitats are found across the Monarch butterfly distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Behaviours

Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

BBC News about Monarch butterfly

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.

  • The wildlife of Life The wildlife of Life

    In autumn 2009, a major new series brought us life as we've never seen it before.

  • George's marvellous minibeasts George's marvellous minibeasts

    A video collection featuring bugs and insects in amazing close up selected by insect expert and TV presenter George McGavin, with Goliath spiders, killer centipedes, ants and moths.

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