Copyright Barbara Samuelson 1998
This Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) was photographed at
Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, California. The monarchs that
overwinter here in the eucalyptus grove each year cling to the leaves
and branches until the air temperature reaches approximately 50 degrees.
They are then warm enough to take flight. This site has been declared
a Natural Preserve which protects the butterflies and their habitat.
(Please click on thumbnail to view the full size photo)
What's the difference between a butterfly and a moth?
Adult butterflies are active in the day, while most-but not all-moths
are active at night. When resting, a butterfly holds its wings together
above its back; a moth holds its wings horizontally. And butterfly antennae
are thickened, or clubbed, at the tips, while moth antennae are most
commonly straight or feathered. Although the caterpillar may take months
to develop, adult butterflies of most species live only a few weeks.
Exceptions include migratory species, which may live up to 10 months.
In warm climates there are continuous generations, producing butterflies
year 'round. Butterfly wings are covered with tiny scales, each a single
color. Most of the colors are produced by pigments, but the beautiful
iridescence of some butterflies results from a reflective micro-structure
on the scale's surface.
Do not touch a butterfly's
wing - the "powder" that rubs off is actually not powder, but is their