These monarchs have completed metamorphosis, and decorate their host like ornaments. They spend much of their lives on and near their favorite food plant, the common milkweed. There are many regional varieties of the plant, and monarchs can generally be seen wherever milkweed abounds.
Once burst upon the scene, the mature monarch butterfly brings joy to the eye. Its seemingly erratic flight heightened and brightened by a splash of eye-catching color grabs our attention. Whose hopes cannot be lifted by the sight?
The hungry bird, the playful cat, are captivated by the inviting, dodging flight of this butterfly, too. These soon learn that the monarch is neither toy nor dinner. They need only one lesson to leave the monarch alone. The noxious toxin in the monarch's body is a good teacher. Once a creature learns, appearance counts: the mimic coloration of the viceroy protects that species as well.
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