With their bright orange hues and lengthy migration, monarch butterflies ( Danaus plexippus ) are one of the world’s most iconic insects. But their population has steadily dropped in recent decades as they face habitat loss and other threats. Monarch butterfly life cycle Monarchs go through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. They can mate several times, sometimes for 16 hours at a time, after which the female immediately starts laying eggs on milkweed plants, according to Monarch Joint Venture (MJV), a non-profit partnership of organizations that facilitate monarch conservation. Monarch eggs are about the size of a pinhead and are football shaped, with vertical ridges, said Laura Lukens, the national monitoring coordinator for MJV. The eggs are off-white to yellow in color. Female monarch butterflies typically lay 300 to 500 eggs on different species of milkweed plants ( Asclepias sp.), but they’ve been known to lay more than 1,100 eggs in captivity, according to MJV . However, only about 10% of those eggs survive to the larva stage due to heavy predation by spiders and stink bugs, Lukens said. It takes the eggs about three to five days to hatch. From the egg emerges a small, […]

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