Watch Us Grow: Monarch Butterflies
This dynamic live insect exhibit will show visitors the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly, the Illinois state insect.
- View four stages of butterfly development: eggs, caterpillars, pupas, and adult butterflies.
- Explore how animals change and adapt through the metamorphosis process.
- Determine whether a butterfly is male or female by examining its wing shape and pattern.
MONARCH BUTTERFLY FAQ’S
Where did we get the chrysalises?
We ordered them from Shady Oak Butterfly Farm located in Florida. Each butterfly was shipped overnight in its own little box.
How many days does it take for the butterfly to come out of the chrysalis?
10 to 14 days
What is the museum going to do with the butterflies after they have come out of their chrysalises?
The butterflies will remain on exhibit in the museum’s habitat for the duration of their natural lives; which is approximately 2 weeks.
What is the red stuff coming from the butterflies? Is the butterfly hurt?
Butterflies push out toxins, salts and water that build up in their bodies. What comes out is red-colored and looks similar to blood, but it’s not. This process does not hurt the butterfly.
Will they reproduce in the habitat?? If the female mates and is ready to lay her eggs and can't locate milkweed plants, what does she do? Does she eggs on any plant she finds? If that is so, what becomes of the caterpillars?
Females will only they lay their eggs on a live milkweed plant. This habitat is specially made to take care of chrysalises and butterflies. There are no milkweed plants in the habitat, so the female butterflies will not lay eggs.
How long do adult Monarchs live?Most adult monarchs live about 2 to 4 weeks. The ones that migrate live longer, about 8-9 months. Plus, it takes another month to grow from an egg to an adult butterfly.
What do monarch butterflies eat?
Adult butterflies eat nectar and water and sometimes liquid from fruits. Larvae (caterpillars) eat only leaves from a milkweed plant.
Why doesn’t the museum release them outdoors?
These butterflies were born and raised to live indoors all their lives. They are happy living in this special habitat and have lots of room to fly around and sip nectar.
Are the butterflies at the museum part of the offspring that would normally travel to Mexico and California?
No they are not. These butterflies were born and raised in captivity and are not part of the natural migration cycle.
How many eggs does a butterfly lay?
Each female lays about 400 eggs during her lifetime. The mother butterfly usually only lays one egg per milkweed plant to make sure each of her offspring have enough to eat, because they have such BIG appetites.
How do monarchs eat?
Adult monarch butterflies sip nectar from flowering plants using a sucking tube, that resembles a soda straw, and is called a proboscis. You can see it coiled under its head when not in use.
Do monarchs live in other parts of the world besides Mexico and the USA?
Yes, monarchs are found in many places throughout the world. They are found in Australia and New Zealand, and many islands east of these countries (most islands between Australia and Tahiti have monarchs). They are also found in Hawaii, most islands in the Caribbean, and even sometimes in Western Europe.
How long does it take a monarch to fly from Washington, DC to Angangueo, Mexico?
This would depend on temperature and wind conditions. On average, it takes about two months.
How much does a monarch butterfly weigh?
Monarchs weigh, on average, about half a gram. That’s less than what a paperclip weighs!
How do Monarchs keep dry if it rains, and how do they dry their wings and what happens to them if they get wet?
When it's raining, monarchs do not fly. They will hold onto trees or bushes during a rainstorm. If wet monarchs get knocked off these perches, they sometimes get stuck on the ground. If they're too wet, they can't fly because their wings are too heavy. When they get wet, they remain still until their wings are dry. They often bask in the sun to dry their wings.
How many times do their wings flap in a minute?
They can flap their wings about 5 to 12 times a second, so about 300 to 720 times a minute. (This is actually quite slow compared to many other butterflies.) But they like to float on the wind too.
Do monarch butterflies have brains?
Yes, they do. All insects have brains. Just like our brains, their brains receive messages from the rest of the body, and send messages to the muscles and other organs in the body. They are very small.
Can monarchs hear?
The larvae respond to loud noises or can at least sense air vibrations. They sense the world mostly through smell and vision.
How do monarchs breathe?
Monarchs breathe through tiny openings on the sides of their bodies called spiracles. (The spiracles are in their cuticle, like our skin).
At what temperature is it too cold for monarchs to fly?
Typically monarchs can fly if it is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and above 50 degrees if it is sunny. The sun allows them to warm their flight muscles enough to fly.
Is it true that monarchs can only see one color?
No, butterflies can see many more colors than most other animals can see; even more than you and I.Are butterflies nocturnal or diurnal?
Diurnal, which means they have an active time (during the day) and a resting time (during the night).
Do monarchs sleep or do they just rest?
Monarchs rest when it's dark, but they can't shut their eyes, because they don't have eyelids.
Where do they go and what do they do at night?
They remain still at night, probably perching on vegetation like bushes and trees.