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by Tony Gomez

2 years ago

Raising Butterflies Blog

Difference Between Male or Female Monarch Butterfly? See Butterfly Pictures...

Learn How to Spot the Differences between Male and Female Monarch Butterflies, and even with markings on their Chrysalides...

2 years ago


By Tony Gomez

Male or Female Butterfly? See the differences in monarch butterfly pictures

by Tony Gomez

2 years ago

How to Tell if a Monarch is a Boy or Girl

To the untrained eye, most monarch butterflies look pretty similar. But if you take a closer look at four butterfly pictures below, you’ll see how easy it is to tell monarch butterfly males from females.

Learning how to sex monarchs is especially helpful if you see a butterfly garden monarch and wonder if you should start searching for monarch butterfly eggs. I can guarantee with 100% certainty a male will leave no such gift.

Males are (slightly) larger than females, but butterflies (like people) come in many different sizes. Some caterpillars pupate appearing far too small, while others keep stuffing their little faces with milkweed ’til they’re ready to burst. I’ve seen giant monarch butterfly males and females. I’ve also seen both in mini-me form. So, if size doesn’t matter, how can you tell monarch males and females apart?

Close Up Butterfly Photos that Illustrate the Differences between Monarch Males and Females

The male monarch butterfly has a black spot on each hind wing that is made up of specialized scales. In other butterflies, similar spots emit pheromones to attract females, but scientists are not sure what function these spots serve for monarch males.

These black dots are an excellent ‘male marker’ for sexing purposes.

How Does this Monarch Female look Different from her Male Counterpart? See photos that illustrate the differences...

The monarch female has noticeably thicker wing veins, which give her a darker appearance. The females hind wings are spotless…

Can you spot the differences between this monarch male and female? More photos and info on how to distinguish monarch females from their male counterparts.

When you compare them together, the differences become obvious. Unfortunately, most monarchs won’t be this cooperative in spreading their wings to let you get a close-up view. So how can you sex a close-winged butterfly?

How To Tell the Difference between a Monarch Male and Female with Closed Butterfly Wings?

Most of the time, you should be able to see part of the monarch male’s black dot bleeding through to the outside wing. In my experience, it’s pretty easy to see this outside mark on most males. Make a mental note of where this dot is located on the outside wing…you’ll have a much easier time finding it on future males.

Sex Monarchs by Caterpillar?

This is only possible through dissection.

Sex Monarchs by Chrysalis?

You can even tell the sex of a monarch by looking for some identifying marks at the top of the chrysalis. You won’t be able to see these subtle differences with the naked eye, but a digital camera with macro capability or a microscope makes it easy to see the differences:

How can you tell the sex of a monarch by looking at its chrysalis? Male vs Female Chrysalis and Butterfly Photos
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How can you tell the sex of a monarch by looking at its chrysalis? Learn how to sex monarch chrysalides and butterflies.
Dimple and a Smile

The best way to get a good look at monarchs is by raising them at home. After adult butterflies eclose (emerge from their chrysalis) they need a few hours to dry their wings before flight. This give you time to get up close and personal. Raised butterflies will typically allow you closer access after they’re released too…assuming you were a good butterfly parent!

Are you interested in learning how to raise monarch butterflies? Download our free guide: 5 Things you need to know BEFORE Raising Monarchs and receive helpful butterfly raising tips throughout the butterfly season.