Danaus erippus

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Southern monarch
Danaus erippus, male.jpg
Male, La Plata, Buenos Aires province, Argentina
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Genus: Danaus
Species: D. erippus
Binomial name
Danaus erippus
(Cramer, [1775])
  • Papilio erippus Cramer, 1775
  • Anosia erippe Hübner, 1816
  • Anosia synippe Hübner, 1821
  • Danais archippus var. brasiliensis Capronnier, 1874
  • Papilio vulgaris Larrañaga, 1923
  • Danais erippus ab. larensis Köhler, 1929

Danaus erippus, the southern monarch, is a milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae) in the family Nymphalidae. It is one of the best known butterflies in South America. Its genome is nearly identical to D. plexippus, but the two are incompatible, and therefore considered separate species.[1]


Danaus erippus is included with other Nymphalidae, the largest family of butterflies with about 6000 species distributed throughout most of the world. It has a reduced pair of forelegs, is brightly coloured, and is included with popular species such as the emperors, admirals, tortoiseshells, and fritillaries. Its wingspan reaches about 110 millimetres (4.3 in), with an easily recognizable orange and black pattern. Until 2007, this butterfly was treated as a subspecies of Danaus plexippus. These species are very similar, but D. erippus usually has an orange trailing edge of the forewings, while in D. plexippus it is black. The lineages of the two species are thought to have separated about 2 million years ago.[2] The colour of the wings in males of the southern monarch is paler than in the females.


Though, not as well known as the eastern North American monarch migratory phenomenon, it has been observed to move in a consistent spring/autumn manner by flying south in the autumn towards colder latitudes for the winter.[3][4] Massive overwintering roosts have not yet been found.

Larval food plants[edit]

D. erippus, like D. plexippus, utilizes host plants that in the genus Asclepias including A. barjoniifolia, A. boliviensis, and A. curassavica,[3] as well as some non-Asclepias (e.g., Astephanus geminiflorus, Cynanchum boerhaviifolium, Cynanchum atacamense, and Tweedia birostrata).[citation needed]


This species can be found in tropical and subtropical latitudes of South America, mainly in Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and southern Peru.


  1. ^ Hay-Roe, M.M., Lamas, G. & Nation, J.L. (2007). Pre- and postzygotic isolation and Haldane rule effects in reciprocal crosses of Danaus erippus and Danaus plexippus (Lepidoptera: Danainae), supported by differentiation of cuticular hydrocarbons, establish their status as separate species. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 91:445–453.
  2. ^ Brower, A.V.Z.; Jeansonne, M.M. (May 2004). "Geographical populations and "subspecies" of New World Monarch butterflies (Nymphalidae) share a recent origin and are not phylogenetically distinct". Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 97 (3): 519–523. doi:10.1603/0013-8746(2004)097[0519:GPASON]2.0.CO;2.
  3. ^ a b Malcolm, S. (2012). "Presentation of a paper at the Monarch Biology and Conservation Meeting: Migration and host plant use of the southern monarch, Danaus erippus" (PDF). Minnesota: Monarchlab.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 25, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  4. ^ Hayward, K.J. (1962). Migration of butterflies and a moth in Argentina, spring and summer 1960-61. The Entomologist 95:8-12.

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