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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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.


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.


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

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

BBC News about Monarch butterfly

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