Tag Archives: How to tell the difference between a male and female Monarch Butterfly

YOUR DAILY MONARCH BUTTERFLY PHOTO AND WHY WE LOVE JOE-PYE WILDFLOWER!

With wonderfully exuberant pollinator friendly flower clusters atop 7 -12 foot tall stalks, what is not to love! Plant Joe-pye in a sunny location at the back of the border and enjoy the array of bees and butterflies that will flock to the nectar-rich blossoms.

More reasons to love Joe-pye is that it is low maintenance, attracts pollinators, is deer resistant, not flattened by rain, not bothered by diseases, blooms when Monarchs are on the wing, and is super easy to grow.

Coming in for a landing

 

HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MALE AND FEMALE MONARCH BUTTERFLY

Newly eclosed female in the petunia patchYou can tell she is a female Monarch because of her smokier and thicker wing venation. The male’s wing veins are narrower . The male also sports to black dots, or sacs, one on each hind wing. The sacs are filled with a pheromone, which the male sprinkles on the female during courtship. If she is receptive, the pair will mate. The pheromones are sometimes referred to by scientists as “love dust.”
In the above photo taken during the fall migration last year, you can easily see the difference. The female is on the left, the male on the right.

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HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FEMALE AND MALE MONARCH BUTTERFLY

A question often asked, “how can you tell if it’s a male or female Monarch Butterfly?”

Female (left) and male Monarch (right)

The difference is easy to see when you are looking at the upper side of the butterfly’s wings. On the hind wings of the male Monarch are two black dots, one dot on each hind wing. These dots are actually pockets filled with pheromones, or “love dust.” When the male and female meet, he sprinkles his love dust, and if she is receptive, the pair will join abdomen to abdomen, where they stayed coupled together for several hours.

You can also see the difference by comparing wing veination. The females wing veins are thicker and smokier, the male’s wing veins are thinner.

During the summer breeding months, you can often tell the difference by behavior, especially when near a patch of milkweed. The males vigorously fly about looking for females, whereas the females are more slowly flitting and hovering around the foliage, looking for places on which to oviposit her eggs. Their behavior during the fall migration is such that both male and female are intently drinking nectar, building their lipid reserves for the long journey south.

Next time you see a Monarch in your garden, have a look and see if you can tell whether male or female.

Male and female Monarchs mating and ascending to a Maple Tree from “Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly” illustrated book (unpublished).