Milkweed butterflies at REGUA

Queen Butterfly <em>Danaus gilippus</em>, REGUA (© by Jorge Bizarro)
Queen Butterfly Danaus gilippus, REGUA (© by Jorge Bizarro)

Milkweed butterflies from the genus Danaus are an emblematic group due to their incredible migration routes, colouration, multi-trophic interactions and so many other interesting aspects of their life histories. The Monarch butterfly Danaus plexippus has been extensively studied in North America, and just recently the Southern Monarch Danaus erippus has been considered as a separate species from Danaus plexippus. Last week, Pedro Ferreira (an undergraduate student at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro( UFRJ) and Daniela Rdrigues (Monarch project main researcher) have found eggs of both the southern monarch D. erippus and the Queen Butterfly D. gilippus at REGUA.

Both species use milkweed Asclepias curassavica as a host plant. Thanks to Jorge Bizarro and Sidenei, who have indicated nice spots with milkweeds and butterflies, as well as the planting of some milkweed in tha last winter, they were able to find both the Southern Monarch and the Queen Butterfly in the wetland area. We are interested in conducting some experiments on larval behaviour and adult cognition of both Danaus species. For the moment, the Southern Monarch seems to be commonly seen all through the year, and the Queen Butterfly is fairly easy to see at higher altitudes, like in Salinas where this photo was taken.