[leps-talk] D. plexippus megalippe vs plexippus

Paul Cherubini monarch at saber.net
Sat Sep 25 23:43:32 EDT 2004

Woody Woods wrote on 9/18:

> I have chipped in on this subject before but am not, as I guess I have
> apologized before, a taxonomist. I need to cite any known distinctions,
> whether morphological or ecological, between D. plexippus plexippus and D.
> Plexippus megalippe. What I know comes from Ackery and Vane-Wright's
> "Milkweed Butterflies", W. Haber's 1993 article on Monarchs and other Costa
> Rican migrators, and direct experience-- and, um, they look pretty much the
> same to me, except that the Costa Rican D. p. megalippe undertakes a
> short-range altitudinal migration and remains reproductively active
> throughout.
> Any citeable references?

Smith, D.S.., L.D. Miller, and J.Y. Miller, 1994.  The butterflies
of the West Indies and south Florida.  Oxford University
Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.

This reference claims megalippe has shorter wings, generally darker 
coloration and a reduction of orange spots in the apex of the forewing.  

However, one can find plenty of examples of northern USA 
migratory monarchs that have stubby forewings, no orange spots
on the apexes of the forewings and a dark, even smokey tan 

Conversely, in the lowlands of central Mexico where year round
monarch breeding populations exist, I have captured bright orange 
monarchs that had long forewings including lots of orange on the 
apexes of the forewings.  

Paul Cherubini


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