Butterflies and Moths of Southern Vancouver Island--Jeremy B. Tatum



Danaus plexippus




The Monarch is surely the best-known butterfly in North America. But apparently it is not as well known as it might be, for every year I receive reports from the Victoria area of Monarchs, and almost invariably they turn out to be tiger swallowtails. In truth, the Monarch does not normally occur here at all, nor does the larval foodplant, milkweed, grow within hundreds of miles. Yet in 1984 a caller whom I knew to be familiar with butterflies told me that she had a Monarch that was laying eggs in her garden. She had brought a single plant from the interior of the province and had planted it in her garden, and somehow a single female Monarch, hundreds of miles off-course, had found the one and only plant! The caller allowed me to photograph a caterpillar, chrysalis and adult, which I reproduce here just for the record. Many of the caterpillars fell victim to tachinids, but 14 survived to fly away as adults. There are, very rarely, other credible records from the area, as in 1992, although the situation is complicated by attempts from time to time to introduce them to the area, attempts that are not likely to succeed, for the foodplant does not grow here.

Like the Satyridae, the former family Danaidae has recently been subsumed, in spite of its distinctiveness, into the huge family Nymphalidae.

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