We Love Our Pollinator Pals!

MONARCH BUTTERFLY - Danaus plexippus - The Monarch is famously known for its incredible yearly migration of 3200km (they fly all the way from Ontario to central Mexico!). Their distinctive black and orange patterned wings span 9-11cm. Males have black dots on their hind wings; these are scent glands they use to attract mates. Monarchs lay eggs one at a time on the bottom of milkweed leaves. The caterpillars feed on these milkweed leaves. Adult Monarch Butterflies eat the nectar of a variety of native flowers, including milkweed. Adult butterflies born in the spring and summer live about 30 days, but those born in the later summer emerge in a state called “reproductive diapause,” and can live for nine months. These are the "migratory generation” that travel to Mexico, and they can be seen flying in a southwesterly direction through the city. They mature over the winter months, start flying north again in mid to late February, and return to Toronto by late May. Fun Fact! Since milkweed has prickly hairs and toxins (to protect itself from being eaten by insects), caterpillars must remove these hairs in order to eat the plant and survive! If they aren’t careful, they can be poisoned, but once they have eaten the leaves, they use these toxins for their own defense.

Did you know that Monarch Butterfly caterpillars ONLY eat milkweed?  Due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and global climate change, there are fewer milkweed plants in our ecosystem, which is having devastating effects on Monarch populations.  You can help our Monarch Butterfly Pollinator Pals by starting some milkweed seedlings in your own home!

orange and black monarch butterfly pollinating pink milkweed flowers


Thank you for learning about these 8 important native pollinator species! For photo credits and resources, go to shoresh.ca/pollinatorpals.

Have fun exploring!

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