Subject: Monarch Butterfly
Location: King’s Canyon, California
July 30, 2014
hi, what’s that bug? i know you have many photos of this butterfly, but how do i tell if this is a male or female? photo taken in king’s canyon national park on july 17th, 2014. thanks! clare.
This is a female Monarch, and she can be distinguished from the male Monarch by the lack of a “scent patch” on the hind wings of the female. According to BugGuide: “Males have scent-scale patches on hindwings, prominent when wings are open, and just possible to see when wings are folded.” In this image of mating Monarchs, the male is the lower butterfly with the open wings. Though we have been hearing and reading many accounts of the drop in populations of Monarch butterflies in recent years, probably due to habitat loss, but also rumored to be connected to GMO corn pollen (not substantiated), we have been noticing numerous migrating Monarchs in Mount Washington in recent weeks. Perhaps this is connected to the cultivation of milkweed in eco-friendly gardens, perhaps the migration patterns are changing, or perhaps we have just been more observant. When we cropped your image, we removed an out of focus Greater Fritillary on the right to concentrate more on the Monarch, but it seems your meadow made butterfly viewing quite a marvelous experience.