Photographed at Humber Bay Park, Toronto, Ontario with a Nikon D90 and Sigma 150-500 mm lens.
Photographed September 21, 2011 during the annual Monarch migration; this particular field of asters and goldenrod was full of these beautiful butterflies. Monarchs gather annually along the Ontario lakeshore, peninsulas and points and can sometimes be so numerous as to coat branches and tree trunks with their colourful wings.
The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae), in the family Nymphalidae. It is perhaps the best known of all North American butterflies. Since the 19th century, it has been found in New Zealand, and in Australia since 1871 where it is called the Wanderer. In Europe it is resident in the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira, and is found as an occasional migrant in Western Europe. Its wings feature an easily recognizable orange and black pattern, with a wingspan of 8.9–10.2 centimetres (3½–4 in). (The Viceroy butterfly has a similar size, color, and pattern, but can be distinguished by an extra black stripe across the hind wing.) Female Monarchs have darker veins on their wings, and the males have a spot called the “androconium” in the center of each hind wing from which pheromones are released. Males are also slightly larger.
The Monarch is famous for its southward migration and northward return in summer from Canada to Mexico and Baja California which spans the life of three to four generations of the butterfly.