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Monarch (Danaus plexippus)


Appearance: Large. Upperside and underside of both sexes bright orange with black veins; edges of wings black with two rows of white spots. Orange colour on hind wing underside lighter.
Wingspan: 9.0–9.5 cm
Season: All year round.
Range: Along the east coast from north-eastern QLD to south-eastern SA; south-western WA. Migrant only in inland and temperate areas, inlucding TAS.
Habitat: Wide variety of habitats, including suburban gardens and parks.
Photo: Ingleburn, NSW, 24 / 04 / 2010


The Monarch is undoubtedly one of the world’s most iconic butterflies. In part this is due to its large size and spectacular appearance, making it one of the most recognisable species of Australia, although there are a few superficially similar species, including the Lesser Wanderer (Danaus chrysippus), the Orange Tiger (Danaus genutia), and females of the Danaid Eggfly (Hypolimnas misippus).

The Monarch is most famous for its annual migrations. Originally from North America, the butterflies migrate in large numbers every year from the United States and southern Canada to their overwintering sites in Mexico and California. In Australia, where the species got introduced in the 19th century, the butterflies are known to breed in only a few regions with favourable climate, including the east coast of QLD, the Sydney basin, and south-western WA in the area around Perth. They regularly migrate to the temperate and inland areas of Australia, including parts of TAS. The butterflies are frequent visitors to suburban gardens and parks where they feed from flowers.

Additional Photos

The upperside is bright orange with black veins and several white markings. (Ingleburn, NSW, 24 / 04 / 2010)
The underside looks similar, but the hind wing colour is lighter. (Ingleburn, NSW, 20 / 02 / 2010)
Another view of the characteristic upperside. (Yalgorup NP, WA, 13 / 01 / 2013)
Monarchs are frequently seen feeding from flowers. (Yalgorup NP, WA, 13 / 01 / 2013)
Monarchs are a migrating species and occasionally occur in large numbers. (Yalgorup NP, WA, 13 / 01 / 2013)


  1. “Monarch butterfly” on Wikipedia