Monarch butterflies are one of the most beautiful and easily recognizable butterflies in the world. These delicate creatures are also one of the most important pollinators of our planet. While they are often seen flitting from flower to flower, sipping nectar, many people don’t know what else monarchs eat. So here we have gathered complete information on what do monarch butterflies eat and have listed down the things they eat while they are caterpillars and when they are butterflies.
What do monarch butterflies eat
Monarch caterpillars, or larvae, feed exclusively on milkweed.
Milkweed is a genus of flowering plants that get their name from the milky sap that oozes from their leaves when they are broken. This sap is poisonous to most animals, but monarch caterpillars are able to eat milkweed without being harmed.
In fact, the milkweed’s toxins actually make the monarchs taste terrible to predators, which helps to protect them from being eaten.
Once monarch caterpillars have transformed into butterflies, they will no longer eat milkweed. Instead, they will sip nectar from a variety of flowers. While they prefer native wildflowers, they will also visit gardens and flower parks. Monarch butterflies are especially fond of red, orange, and yellow flowers.
While monarchs will visit a variety of different flowers for nectar, they are particularly attracted to those that are native to their breeding grounds. One of the most important breeding grounds for monarchs is in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. Here, the monarchs congregate in massive numbers, often numbering in the millions. The butterflies congregate in these mountains to mate and to overwinter.
During the overwintering period, the monarchs will congregate in oyamel fir trees. While they are roosting in these trees, they will sip sap from the bark and leaves. This helps to give them the energy they need to make the long journey back to their breeding grounds in the spring.
While monarchs are often seen as delicate creatures, they are actually quite resilient. Their amazing ability to migrate long distances and their beauty make them one of the most beloved insects on the planet.
What fruits do monarch butterflies eat?
Sometimes monarchs will visit fruit to get the sugary calories they need, especially in more tropical areas of their range. They’re especially fond of oranges, mangoes, and rotting bananas.