Male or female? How to tell if a monarch butterfly is a boy or a girl

During monarch tagging at Dee's Bee & Butterfly Festival, taggers often get to choose whether they want to tag a male or a female monarch butterfly.

Then the next question is, how do the staff helping with tagging know the difference?

There are two very simple ways to tell apart a male and female monarch butterfly. First, male monarchs have a spot on each hindwing.

male monarch butterfly on green background

Male monarch butterfly

Scientists are not sure what physiological purpose that these dots have, but they definitely mark a male. A female monarch butterfly does not have these dots.

female monarch butterfly on yellow flowers

Female monarch

You might have noticed in the above photos that not only does the female not have the hindwing spots, it also has thicker veins --- the black lines that run through the wings. Males have thinner lines while females have thicker lines.

monarch butterfly on green leaf

Female monarch with thicker veins

monarch butterfly

Male monarch with thinner veins

Now when you see a monarch in the wild, you can tell if it's a male or female!

10 monarch butterfly questions answered

We get a lot of questions at the Dickinson County Nature Center, and a lot of them have to do with butterflies and bees. Let’s take a look at some of our most commonly asked questions about monarch butterflies. How long do monarch butterflies live? A monarch is in the egg stage for three-five days, Read More »

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4 keys to telling apart monarch and swallowtail caterpillars

We stress that it is important to plant milkweed because it is the only plant that monarch butterflies lay their eggs on and that their caterpillars eat. However, some people have come to us confused that monarch caterpillars are eating the dill in their yard. Taking a closer look though, it’s not monarch caterpillars eating Read More »

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The majestic monarch’s magnificent life cycle

A few more weeks and the monarch butterflies that are overwintering in Mexico will start making their way north. Once coming out of hibernation, a female monarch will find a male with which to reproduce. Around the Texas/Mexico border, the female monarch will find milkweed plants on which to lay her eggs. She can lay Read More »

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Test your monarch knowledge

Find out if you are a monarch scholar, monarch intellectual, monarch student or monarch newbie with this quiz!

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How do monarch butterflies find their way south?

Those wonderful orange-and-black butterflies that we love so much. They fly overhead this time of year, and we know they are headed to their overwintering sites outside of Mexico City. But how do they get there? Plenty of studies have been done throughout the years to try to figure out how a brain the size Read More »

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Monarch tagging — what now?

During the Bee & Butterfly Festival, almost 300 monarch butterflies were tagged through the University of Kansas’ Monarch Watch program. What happens now? The butterflies were released into the Kenue Park prairie and are now making their ways south to certain forests in Mexico where monarchs overwinter each year. In the spring, these monarchs will Read More »

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