How Long Do Monarch Butterflies Live? The Interesting Answer!
Few butterflies turn heads quite like the Monarch. With an average 4-inch wingspan, bright orange and black colors with white spots, and an ability to migrate over hundreds of miles, the Monarch butterfly is a gem in the insect community.
But how long do these beautiful butterflies live? While the average Monarch butterfly lives for between 4 and 6 weeks, they can sometimes live up to 9 months, and that’s only for the butterfly stage!
There’s a lot to unpack, so keep reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the lifespan and life stages of a Monarch butterfly.
How Long Do Monarch Butterflies Live?
On average a Monarch butterfly will live between 4 and 6 weeks. However, there is one notable exception to this average lifespan: the last brood of the season.
These Monarch butterflies will live much longer than the rest, with their average lifespan typically lasting between 8 and 9 months. The last cycle of Monarch butterflies in the summer need to live this long because they migrate south to hibernate.
However, while a healthy Monarch butterfly can live this long during the migration process, many don’t make it through the entire process because of predators.
Moreover, the average Monarch butterfly’s lifespan we’re highlighting here only talks about how long their butterflies live for. Considering their time as a caterpillar, we can add another 4 weeks to their overall lifespan.
The Average Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle
The Monarch butterfly has four unique life stages you need to account for. While they’re only a butterfly for one of those stages, they’re the same living creature throughout it all.
If you want to find Monarch butterfly eggs, look for milkweed. It’s the only plant a Monarch butterfly will lay her eggs on, and it’s also one of their favorite food sources. Monarch butterflies lay eggs one at a time, but they’ll deposit between 500 and 700 eggs over a few eggs.
Once a Monarch butterfly lays an egg it will take less than 1 week for it to hatch.
Monarch butterflies start out as black, yellow, and white caterpillars. Each color takes a stripe, and those stripes continue down their entire body. A Monarch caterpillar stays in this form for about 2 weeks, constantly eating milkweed during that time.
Once a Monarch caterpillar is large enough, they form a green chrysalis. They stay in this chrysalis for about 2 weeks. As the Monarch butterfly gets ready to emerge from the chrysalis, it turns from green to dark brown, and golden dots form around the outside.
This is the life stage everyone wants to see, and with vibrant colors and a larger size, it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular! The Monarch butterfly will spend the rest of its life in this form, only dying of natural causes after they’ve had the chance to reproduce.
The next time you’re lucky enough to spot a Monarch butterfly, take a chance to appreciate its beauty. While they don’t live long, they lead interesting and proactive lives.
Featured Image Credit: Erin Minuskin, Unsplash