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Monarch Butterflies Danaus plexippus and Butterfly Weed Asclepias tuberosa Monarch Butterflies and Butterfly Weed a type of milkweed have coevolved as plant and pollinator This means that they both rely on one another to survive Milkweed is the primary source of nutrition for monarchs Monarchs only eat Asclepias tuberosa a particular species of Milkweed The monarch relies on toxins in the milkweed to fend off predators such as birds The toxic tendencies of the milkweed plants caused the government to attempt o eradicated the plant along roadsides and in cow pastures This has caused a major decline in population of milkweed which is also endangering monarchs Milkweed relies on the monarch to pollinate it so that it can reproduce The life cycle of a monarch revolves around the Butterfly weed plant First the monarch lays its egg on the leaf of the plant Once the Caterpillar is born it eats the leaf for nutrition The Monarch caterpillar is striped black and yellow As it grows and becomes ready to become a chrysalis by forming a cocoon it uses the plant again The caterpillar forms its cocoon on the Butterfly Weed By the time the caterpillar is ready to become a chrysalis it has grown to be about 45 millimeters in length The chrysalis is pale green and spotted with gold It becomes more transparent as the butterfly gets ready to break free The adult Monarch has a wingspan of about 4 inches The male and female can be told apart by a gland on the wings It is apparent as a black circle on the male which is not present in the female The Monarch is native to North and Central America The plant and its pollinator have grown to depend on each other The Monarch has an extensive migration pattern Every autumn thousands of monarchs in North America migrate southward over winter and begin to return in the spring Many monarchs
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