milkweed butterfly


milkweed butterfly
[1875-80, Amer.]

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▪ insect group
      any of a group of butterflies in the brush-footed butterfly (q.v.) family, Nymphalidae (order Lepidoptera). Some authorities consider this group to be at the family level (Danaidae). The majority of species are found in both Old and New World tropics. However, some well-known members such as the monarch butterfly (q.v.) and the queen butterfly live in temperate regions. The large, colourful adults have long, usually brownish or orange wings marked by black-and-white patterns. The first pair of legs is small and not used for walking. They fly slowly and deliberately, and some, such as the monarch butterfly, migrate great distances.

      The larvae are often brightly banded or striped, with two to four pairs of fleshy projections protruding from the body. They feed chiefly on milkweed and sometimes on nightshade. These plants contain acrid, milky juices that probably make the larva and its subsequent stages distasteful to predators. This, combined with a conspicuous coloration, protects them. Many other butterflies benefit from this protection through mimicry.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Milkweed butterfly — For the mythological fifty daughters of Danaus, see Danaides. Milkweed butterflies Three Milkweed butterflies Scientific classification Kingdom …   Wikipedia

  • milkweed butterfly — noun large migratory American butterfly having deep orange wings with black and white markings; the larvae feed on milkweed • Syn: ↑monarch, ↑monarch butterfly, ↑Danaus plexippus • Hypernyms: ↑danaid, ↑danaid butterfly • Member Holonym …   Useful english dictionary

  • milkweed butterfly — monarch butterfly mon arch but ter*fly, n. (Zo[ o]l.) A very large red and black butterfly ({Danais Plexippus}) having striking orange brown wings with black veins in a reticulated pattern; called also {milkweed butterfly} and {monarch}. Its… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • milkweed butterfly — Monarch Mon arch, n. [F. monarque, L. monarcha, fr. Gr. ?, ?; mo nos alone + ? to be first, rule, govern. See {Archi }.] 1. A sole or supreme ruler; a sovereign; the highest ruler; an emperor, king, queen, prince, or chief. [1913 Webster] He who… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • milkweed butterfly — noun Date: 1880 any of a family (Danaidae) or nymphalid subfamily (Danaine) of large butterflies feeding on plants of the milkweed family as larvae; especially monarch butterfly …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • milkweed — noun 1》 a herbaceous American plant with milky sap. [Genus Asclepias.] 2》 (also milkweed butterfly) another term for monarch (in sense 2) …   English new terms dictionary

  • Butterfly gardening — is a growing school of gardening, specifically wildlife gardening, that is aimed at creating an environment that attracts butterflies, as well as certain moths, such as those in the Hemaris genus. Butterfly gardening is often aimed at inviting… …   Wikipedia

  • Milkweed — Milk weed , n. (Bot.) Any plant of the genera {Asclepias} and {Acerates}, abounding in a milky juice, and having its seed attached to a long silky down; silkweed. The name is also applied to several other plants with a milky juice, as to several… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • butterfly weed — wēd n an orange flowered milkweed of the genus Asclepias (A. tuberosa) of eastern No. America that is a source of asclepias called also pleurisy root …   Medical dictionary

  • butterfly weed — ☆ butterfly weed n. a North American wildflower (Asclepias tuberosa) of the milkweed family, with orange flowers …   English World dictionary


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