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Monarch Butterflies

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Sharon Zhou

on 22 October 2012

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Transcript of Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterflies Danaus plexippus Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are considered the king of butterflies (hence the name "monarch"). A monarch butterfly goes through metamorphosis. As a larvae, it eats only milkweed. As an adult, a monarch butterfly can eat nectar, water, and even some juices of certain fruits. Monarch butterflies live in the North and South Americas and Australia. They migrate in the winter. In the summer, they can be found in open fields and places with milkweed. In the winter, they can be found on the coast of Southern California and at higher altitudes in Central Mexico. Monarch Butterflies are primary consumers. They only eat plants- milkweed. Because monarchs eat milkweed, their body develops a bad taste. However, they do have some predators. For example, ants, spiders, and wasps eat monarch butterfly larvae and eggs. Monarchs are especially at a danger of being someone's next meal when they're migrating in the winter. Mice and voles are two predators of monarchs. The two main dangers to these orange and black butterflies are the Black Headed Grosbeak and the Black Backed Oriole. These two birds are apparently unaffected by the taste in the butterflies' bodies. Monarchs are one-half of a symbiotic relationship along with milkweed. The butterflies lay their eggs on the milkweed leaves. The hatched larvae then only eat milkweed, providing their body with the disgusting taste that repels predators. In return, when the larvae undergo metamorphosis and become butterflies, they fly from flower to flower, pollinating the plants. This type of relationship is called mutualism- where both organisms benefit.
Monarchs also are part of a commensalism relationship with Viceroy butterflies. The Viceroy butterfly has the same orange and black markings as the monarch butterfly. Because monarchs taste bad to predators, the Viceroy butterflies also avoid getting eaten. This doesn't affect monarchs at all but protects the Viceroys.
Monarch butterflies and a protozoan parasite called ophryocystis elektroscirrha are in a parasitic relationship. The OE latches onto the butterflies and causes them to pass spores onto other places. If females have this, they could transmit it to their young; if males have it, they could transmit it to females during mating season. Monarch Butterfly Milkweed Leaf Beetle Milkweed Bug Milkweed Black Backed Oriole Black Headed Grosbeak Elderberry Black Eared Mouse Oleander Meadow Mushrooms Sharon Zhou
6th Period During the summer, monarchs like to live anywhere with lots of milkweed plants. This includes places like gardens, meadows, fields, and parks. In the winter, monarchs migrate to warmer places. They like to fly to the mountains of Mexico and the woodlands in Southern California. Adaptations are inherited characteristics that increases and organism's chance of survival. Monarch butterflies' adaptations include... - Coloring
The monarch butterfly's orange and black wings warn predators that they taste bad. Predators might try to eat the brightly colored butterflies once, but then they will never try to eat these insects again. Other animals that use coloring as a defense system are the poison dart frog, the black widow, and the coral snake. - Proboscis
Just like all other butterflies, the monarch uses its proboscis, or "straw", to drink the nectar from flowers. The proboscis is actually in two parts when the butterfly first comes out of the chrysalis. It is then stuck together like a zipper. Zippering these two pieces together forms a central canal from which the butterfly can get the nectar. -Toxicity
Monarch butterfly larvae eat the actual leaves of the milkweed. They get a chemical in their body called cardenolides. When they become butterflies, the cardenolides are still in their bodies. Predators get one taste of the butterflies then spit them back out because of their bad taste. This prevents monarchs from getting eaten easily. - Migration:
Monarch Butterflies migrate to warmer places in the winter. For example, the butterflies in North America live in Southern Canada and the Northern United States. during the summer to take advantage of the abundance of milkweed. As it gets colder and colder, they migrate south to Mexico to avoid freezing to death. This is a behavioral adaptation. Kingdom Animalia Classification Tree The earliest butterflies are supposed to have evolved from the caddis flies at around the same time the first flowering plants appeared. Butterflies and other insects started to evolve on Pangaea. Scientists were at odds as to if butterflies evolve, because their larvae go through metamorphosis, which is like a type of evolution. One study says a race of primitive caterpillars once were able to reproduce without undergoing metamorphosis. It infers that the pupa and adult stages of the lifecycle couldn't have evolved from such a species. This is a false claim. The ancestor of other insects likely underwent an embryo stage before it became a non-metamorphic insect. Natural selection would've resulted in insects like praying mantises, cockroaches, and dragonflies to form, giving them different niches in their environment. As the nymph and adult stages start to get distinct from each other, the insect would've been more vulnerable during the final metamorphosis. Natural selection would've then targeted insects that could resist predation- leading to the pupa stage. The full metamorphosis cycle is now evolved. A fossil of Prodryas persephone, dating from 30 million years ago, found in Colorado. Slowly, over time, studies have shown that migrating monarch butterflies have evolved bigger and longer wings. They've evolved long wings with a narrow tip to reduce drag. The same team of scientists also noticed that migrating monarchs had a bigger body to store fat for the trip down to Mexico. Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species Arthropoda Insecta Lepidoptera Nymphalidae Danaus Plexippus Convergent Evolution A fossil of a monarch butterfly, taken with ultraviolet light frequency. Evolutionary
History - Poison ingestion:
Both the monarch and the plain tiger butterflies use alkaloids that they ate during their larvae stage to give themselves a bitter taste. The butterflies' bright colors warn the predators that they taste bad! Monarch Plain Tiger -Internal Sun Compass
The monarch butterfly and the desert locust both have an internal sun compass. The monarch uses this "compass" to help find its way south while migrating. Even thought 300 million years of evolution has taken place since the two have had a common ancestor, the internal compass has not changed at all. A representation of a monarch's brain. The colored parts are the parts scientists associate with helping the butterfly use the sun compass. Red Milkweed Beetle Cladogram - Gene Mutation:
Monarch butterflies and Red Milkweed Beetles both eat milkweed. Cardenolides are a lethal toxin found in milkweed. The monarchs and red milkweed beetles are immune to this toxin. Both of these creatures have a specific mutation of the Na,K-ATPase gen called N122H mutation. This allows them to digest the cardenolides without dying. 2 pairs of wings 6 legs Wings Knobs at end of antennae Monarch Butterfly Moths Bee Ant Spider Segmented bodies In 2004, there was a field study done on if genetically modified (Bt) corn pollen harms monarch butterflies. This field study was conducted after in 1999, the monarch caterpillar population that was forced to eat milkweed leaves with Bt corn pollen on them suffered. Scientists from all different institutions collaborated on this study. After conducting research, scientists concluded that Bt corn does harm monarchs, but only if they are exposed to more than 1,000 grains/cm^2. The amount of corn pollen the butterflies were exposed to averaged around 170 pollen grains/cm^2, helping scientists to conclude that Bt corn pollen does not post a significant risk to monarch butterflies. Caterpillars eating died after eating Bt corn pollen dusted milkweed leaves. Monarchs are classified as "Near Threatened" on the World Wildlife Foundation scale. Climate change is threatening to disrupt migrating patterns by affecting winter and summer habitats for the butterflies. Colder and wetter winters and hotter and drier summers are starting to shift suitable habitats north. In 2012, the number of acres of forest the butterflies migrated to in Mexico dropped from 9 to 7. Climate changes could also mean more adult butterflies dying and less milkweed for caterpillars. The WWF is working to preserve forests for monarchs

Monarchs live in the forests of Mexico in the winter. However, agriculture and tourism is cutting down the number of trees in the forests. The WWF is supporting tree nurseries to help restore forests. Monarchs gather in bunches on trees in the summer when they migrate to the forests of Mexico. Works Cited

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