Monday, November 9, 2009

More about the monarch butterflies

Apparently monarch butterflies in Hawai'i and other tropical places don't migrate because the climate is so mild year-round. But the best part about the monarch butterfly on O'ahu is that it is often found as a white morph, where the orange color of the normal butterfly is replaced with white. These white monarch butterflies are rapidly increasing as a proportion of the local monarch population, because apparently the birds which feed on monarchs around here (evidently there are in fact some birds that can tolerate the noxious taste of the monarch butterfly) don't recognize the white ones as a prey species. Awesome. Now I need to go out and find me a white monarch butterfly.


thm said...

Is there milkweed on Hawaii for the Monarchs to eat, or do they eat some other plant? Is it known if the Monarchs came with humans or did they arrive in Hawaii naturally (if accidentally)?

SEB said...

There is a relative of the North American milkweed, called Crown Flower; it's native to India, I think, and it's widely used in lei making. I'm told that monarch butterflies eat it and lay their eggs on it too. But I've also seen them feeding at other plants that have similarly shaped flower clusters, but which don't appear to be milkweeds.