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Alabama State Insect
Adopted on May 2, 1989
The Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexipuss, is a native butterfly well-known to Alabama. In 1989 the legislature made the Monarch Butterfly the state insect by Act no. 89-935.
Did you know that: The Monarch Butterfly has been proclaimed the official state insect or butterfly in each of the following states:
Description of the Alabama State Insect: Monarch Butterfly
The monarch butterfly is sometimes called the "milkweed butterfly" because its larvae eat the plant. In fact, milkweed is the only thing the larvae can eat! If you'd like to attract monarchs to your garden, you can try planting milkweed (if you live in the right area).
Entomologists divide the migrating populations of Monarch Butterflies into two groups, one west of the continental divide which is considered too high for the butterflies to fly over, and all the territory eastward including Florida. The eastern and western migrating Monarch undergoes a chemical change delaying sexual maturity, allowing the butterflies to wait out the winter in large colonies south of the freeze line which have been found in Mexico and California. They only mate when they return north, living as long as nine months in the process.
In Spring when the female butterflies migrate northward, they lay eggs on various species of milkweed. The development period from the egg through larva and chrysalis to the adult ranges from 20 to 33 days. The development time depends on temperature (faster in warmer areas). Some monarchs remain in the vicinity of their breeding grounds; others fly north to lay eggs. Some monarchs remain in the vicinity of their breeding grounds; others fly north to lay eggs.
The development period from the egg through larva and chrysalis to the adult ranges from 20 to 33 days. The development time depends on temperature (faster in warmer areas).
The larvae feed on the plant leaves for about two weeks and develop into caterpillars about 2 inches long.
After awhile, the caterpillars attach themselves head down to a convenient twig, they shed their outer skin and begin the transformation into a pupa (or chrysalis), a process which is completed in a matter of hours.
Eastern populations winter in Florida, along the coast of Texas, and in Mexico, and return to the north in spring. Monarch butterflies follow the same migration patterns every year. During migration, huge numbers of butterflies can be seen gathered together.
Most predators have learned that the monarch butterfly makes a poisonous snack. The toxins from the monarch's milkweed diet have given the butterfly this defense. In either the caterpillar or butterfly stage the monarch needs no camouflage because it takes in toxins from the milkweed and is poisonous to predators. Many animals advertise their poisonous nature with bright colors... just like the monarch!
Code of Alabama
The Code of Alabama 1975
Taxonomic Hierarchy of the Monarch Butterfly
Many states have selected insects as one of their state symbols, however nine states (out of 50) have no official state insect as of 2008.