The MONARCH butterfly
Who really is interested in butterflies will certainly have noticed them on the island as they are abundant here at this time of the year. The official name is “Danaus Plexippus”.Their original habitat was South-America, but they spread out all over the world, most probably through merchant ships. The remarkable coloured wings with black stripes and borders, dotted with white points reflect, on a couple of inches wingspan, an astonishing work of art. The body also has the same pattern: black with white spots.
The North-American Monarch undertakes every autumn a real trek towards the South which can take them about 3.000km far away. They fly in groups and orientate themselves by means of the ultraviolet part of the sun light. They generally live for about 15-45 days, but if they can hibernate, till 9 months.
The caterpillars defend themselves from being eaten by nourishing themselves from alkaloid-containing plants and from which they accumulate the poison so that they become un-eatable. Additionally, their body pattern acts as a warning to their predators. It takes 4 weeks from getting out of the egg till becoming a butterfly. The cocoons are bright green and with golden “drops” at the top.
Fuerteventura is an important host for these creatures, although some might think that this would be impossible on this barren island. But who walks around and has a close look, will be rewarded!
The Monarch butterflies that do not wander but stay in their summer place, multiply there, but will die when winter comes.