Lord of the far skies, wide-ranger, migrator in endless millions, evil-tasting king of the butterflies, so is the Monarch. Even the islands of the south seas, even isolated Australia, and mysterious Nee Guinea, know the Monarch. The bad taste he has that causes birds to shun him has allowed him to proudly spread his wings unchallenged across the hemispheres. Lesser butterflies, notably the Viceroy have sought to copy his regal beauty for protection. The Monarch’s larger size, his bright red brown coloring and his more numerous white spots, distinguish him from the rival.
The Monarch is the Methuselah of butterflies. A spring, a summer, a fall, a winter, another spring may pass before an ancient Monarch, frayed and battered by the season, succumbs at last to death. In spring the Monarch migrate singly northward over the land, following the retreating snows. Their soaring flight, their unfrightened confidence, become familiar in the far north in summer, while the middle lands may be forgotten. But in the fall they gather, a frenzy of swarming possesses them, and south they go in masses that color the skies or fall upon trees to burden them to groaning.
The bee-hive shaped eggs are layed on the milkweed, a plant as far ranging as its destroyer. The fat and devil-horned caterpillars change into fairy-like chrysalids looking as if sealed with tiny golden nails.