Milkweed butterfly

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Milkweed butterflies
Three Milkweed butterflies
Scientific classification
Danaus chrysippus, male with anal hairs.

The Danainae is a subfamily of butterflies. It belongs in the family Nymphalidae. There are over 200 species.[1] They are commonly known as Milkweed butterflies or danaids.

These butterflies are common in tropical places all over the world.[2] One of the most famous butterflies, the Monarch (Danaus plexippus), belongs in this subfamily.[1] The larvae and the butterflies get poisonous glycosides from their larval host plant, the milkweed, so they become distasteful to predators. These milkweed butterflies (Monarch, Queen, Soldier) eat only milkweeds (Asclepias) as larvae. This highly effective defence strategy shields them against almost all predators. Birds soon learn to avoid these species after attempting to eat them.

Males in this subfamily have anal hairs. This body part at the end of the abdomen can be pulled back inside the body. They also have spots on the bottom wings that release scents to attract females. The male raises his abdomen and puts his hair pencils into the androconia. After the hairs have the chemical on them, the male will use them during courtship.[1]

Tribes[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Scott, James A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA. ISBN 0-8047-2013-4
  2. Ackery P.R. & Vane-Wright R.I. 1984. Milkweed butterflies, their cladistics and biology, being an account of the natural history of the Danainae, a subfamily of the Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae. London.

Other websites[change | change source]