The Monarch is perhaps the best-known and most-loved butterfly in North America. This large, orange and black butterfly can be seen across the country in backyards, parks and fields. Monarch butterflies are known for their long-range 3,000-mile migration that brings millions of them to California and Mexico each winter. The Monarch is a large butterfly, with no tails. It has rich orange coloration with black veins and white spots on the black wing borders and on the body. Males have small, black scent glands on the veins in the center of their hind wings. Females have thicker black veins.


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Monarch Facts

Butterfly Family: Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)

Butterfly Subfamily: Satyrinae

Butterfly Wingspan: 3 3/8 – 4 7/8 inches

Butterfly Habitat: Many open habitats including fields, meadows, weedy areas, marshes, and roadsides


Monarch Host and Nectar Plants

Host Plants:

  • Milkweeds (There are 14 species of Milkweeds that are native to Tennessee)
    • Aquatic Milkweed
    • Butterfly Weed
    • Clasping Milkweed
    • Common Milkweed
    • Fewflower Milkweed
    • Fourleaf Milkweed
    • Green Antelopehorn
    • Green Comet Milkweed
    • Poke Milkweed
    • Purple Milkweed
    • Redwing Milkweed
    • Swamp Milkweed
    • Tall Green Milkweed
    • Whorled Milkweed

Nectar Plants:

  • Milkweeds
  • Blazing Star
  • Coneflowers
  • Black-eyed Susans
  • Lantana
  • Goldenrod
  • Ironweed
  • Thistles
  • Tickseed
  • Mexican Sunflower
  • New England Aster
  • Joy-Pye Weed
  • Zinnia