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1st Draft Species Profile

Monarch Butterfly

Devon Mills

Fleming College

The Monarch Butterfly also known as the Danaus plexippus, is one of the most well know and recognized butterflies. The World Wildlife Federation currently lists the Monarch’s status as endangered (2019). Herein we will review the monarch’s physical characteristics and outline it’s life history and feeding ecology/preferred foods.


Physical Characteristics

Most easily distinguished by its wing colours of orange, black, and white markings.

The “two pairs of brilliant orange-red wings, featuring black veins and white spots along the edges” (WWF, 2019) give them a stained-glass window effect. As would be expected of a butterfly they barely tip the scale at less than half a gram in weight with their wingspan coming in between 7 and 10 cm.

Alternatively, the caterpillars have yellow, black and white stripes. They grow up to 5 cm. When they metamorphize their chrysalis is “seafoam green with tiny yellow spots along its edge” (NWF, 2019).


Life History

The NWF (National Wildlife Federation) explains that monarchs exclusively lay their eggs on milkweed which then take 3-5 days to hatch. They then eat the leaves of the milkweed and then about 2 weeks later, form a chrysalis. The monarch butterfly emerges 2 weeks later. Typically, they only live for a “few weeks” but the last ones to hatch in summer “can live upward of eight months” (NWF, 2019). Its this 4th and last batch of monarchs that migrates south to Mexico or California for those living west of the Rocky Mountains according to Stafford Mader, L, (2014). They leave those wintering grounds in the spring and migrate back to Canada in the summer (WWF, 2019).

Preferred Food

Although the Monarch butterfly can feed on the nectar of many flowers like “echinacea, black-eyed susan, sage, goldenrod, zinnias and dahlias” (WWF, 2019, para. 7), the most important food source for the species is still the milkweed plants that their larvae/caterpillars exclusively eat. In Milkweed: Medicine of Monarchs and Humans, Lindsay Stafford Mader explains the connection between the steroid compound called cardenoloid, in milkweed and the decreased risk of infection in the larvae and later the natural toxicity of the butterfly that acts as a defense against predators.

The higher the cardenoloid levels in the milkweed the larvae eats, the higher the caterpillar’s chance of survival and later, not just the individual butterfly’s survival, but the species itself. This would be from the common association response poisonous prey induce in their would-be predators.


NAF. (2019). Monarch Butterfly. Retrieved October 31,

2019, from https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Invertebrates/Monarch-Butterfly

Stafford Mader, L. (2014). MILKWEED: Medicine of Monarchs and

Humans. HerbalGram, (101), 38–47. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=awh&AN=94874416&site=eds-live&scope=site

WWF. (2019). Monarch Butterfly. Retrieved October

06, 2019, from http://www.wwf.ca/conservation/species/monarch_butterfly/


  1. Liam

    Strong sources, well known names that anyone would recognize as professional and reputable sources for your profile.
    Well organized, if you find pictures to fit your intended areas i think it’ll all come together pretty well. Overall I’d say your thoughts are very well organized and if you keep the formatting your final draft will look good. (Minor thing I’m not sure will make a difference but underlining subtitles was mentioned in class at some point)

    Your APA seems fairly strong to me, the second half of the life history section is a bit dense with citations but not bad overall. Aside from this section the citations fit well into the text and maintained the flow of your writing well.

    As for the balance of your writing between scientific and casual I think you did very well, nothing jumps out to me as particularly dense or difficult to read and it generally flows pretty well. I think the ‘community relevance’ side could be worked a bit more as the monarch is very well known to be an endangered species that a lot of people are interested in. There are a few points where a lot of facts are presented side by side that might benefit from some linking statements to bring the facts together into a more cohesive description, though as a whole I think you did pretty well with this.

    Solid work, and it’ll only get better

  2. Deanna

    1st paragraph the word “and” is repeated in the sentence of “monarch’s physical characteristics (and) outlines it’s life history (and) feeding ecology/preferred food”. Possibly use a comma to help the flow and then perhaps removing the / from the end.

    Subtopic division is very clear and proper. Well done there, along with specific notification where pictures will be inserted in the future.

    When mentioning caterpillars, try to state that you are talking about the larva state of the monarch butterfly so we can know that you aren’t just talking about a random caterpillar in comparison.

    Chrysalis (not everyone will not know this term) maybe define the definition once then when stated later the reader will understand the term.

    Life history has many quotations back to back which make it feel less of a authentic voice and more of just read and regurgitate. Maybe add a sentence or two in between to allow an authentic voice to be known.

    Life history paragraph is a bit choppy, try to make clear points and sentences to help increase the flow of the paragraph.

    Preferred food; many flowers “like” , possibly use “such as” to enhance the professional side of the research that you made. “like” reminds me of the young high school girls listing things.

    Period after milkweed plants, and start new sentence referring back in your profile. “as previously stated” “previously mentioned above” shows that you are connecting the adult monarch to the larva state.

    Last paragraph is very run on, possibly try to make clear sentences and statements.

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