How can Butterfly Wings Reveal the Sex of a Monarch Butterfly?

Every monarch has four butterfly wings; two forewings and two hindwings.

newly hatched monarch butterfly front view

When the monarch emerges from its butterfly pupa, its wings are wet and crumpled. The monarch hardly resembles the breathtaking creature you see fluttering around flower gardens.

In a matter of minutes, the monarch's appearance will drastically change...and for the better. The butterfly's abdomen is practically bursting with hemolymph(blood), which will now be pumped to the wings so the monarch can take flight.

Two open-winged monarch butterflies on white flowers

After the hemolymph has been pumped, the wings need 2-3 hours to dry properly for flight. During this period, it is important for the monarch to remain hanging from the chrysalis. If their flight devices are frayed or torn, they are extremely difficult to repair.

However, this video from the Live Monarch Foundation demonstrates that wing reparation is possible with the right tools and a slow and steady surgeon's hand:

And how can you tell the difference between a male and female monarch butterfly? It's actually quite easy if you can get them to open up for a few seconds.

Male Monarch Butterfly open-winged on Liatris

Males have a small dark spot on each of their hindwings.
female monarch butterfly open-winged on pink flowers

Females appear slightly darker and have thicker wing veins.

In flight, the monarch's wings flap between 5-12 times a second. This is actually slow compared to other butterfly species, not to mention the hyper-winged hummingbird!

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