Bulletin 9 - November 1979: The Arabian Monarch Butterfly

The Arabian Monarch Butterfly

by Bish Brown

The Arabian Monarch (also known as African Monarch and Indian Plains Tiger) -- Danaus chrysippus Linne 1758 -- is one of the commonest butterflies seen on Abu Dhabi Island. It can be seen during most months of the year.

The eggs are ribbed longitudinally and are laid on the leaves or young shoots of Ascepiadaceae. These are plants of the Milkweed family, the commonest in Abu Dhabi being Calotropis procera, Periploca aphylla, Pergularia tomentosa, and Leptadenia pyrotehnica. None of these plants are exactly common on Abu Dhabi Island, so maybe the butterfly utilizes some imported food-plant species here.

The larvae are not described in our reference books. The small caterpillars believed to be of this species can be found especially on Calotropis procera (the Gunpowder Tree) around Al Ain/Buraimi and towards the Oman foothills. The larvae observed were striped yellow and black with three distinctive pairs of hair-like protrusions at the head, tail and in the middle. The butterfly measures approximately 7 cm across at the wingtips.


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