Danaus chrysippus orientis
The African Monarch is one of our most commonly seen butterflies, flying throughout the year and occurring in every corner of our country. Furthermore they’re widespread over the rest of Africa, the Indian Ocean islands, large tracts of Asia and Australia, where they are known as the “Plain Tiger”. These butterflies prefer more open habitats, are regularly seen in parks and gardens, and fly rather slowly, settling often on flowers or wilted plants.
Females lay eggs singly on their favourite larval food plants from the Milkweed family (especially the genuses Asclepias, Ceropegia, Stapelia and Huernia). Their metamorphosis from egg to butterfly takes from 4 to 6 weeks depending on the local climate. Adults are medium-sized butterflies, with a wingspan of between 5 and 8cm, and feed on nectar and alkaloids from damaged or dying plants. Their colouration serves as warning to predators that this butterfly is foul-tasting (likely resulting from their feeding on milkweeds as larvae), and as a result several other kinds of more palatable butterflies mimic the same colours and patterns. They live for up to two weeks in their adult form.