The wingspan is about 10 cm. Monarchs can be distinguished from the smaller but similar Viceroy by the absence of an inner margin of black on the hind wings. Monarch larvae or caterpillars are striped yellow, black and white; they grow to about 5 cm in length. The distinctive gold-green chrysalis suspends from a milkweed leaf or branch.
Breeding habitat is confined to where milkweed grows, since the leaves of these plants are the sole food of the caterpillars. Different species of milkweeds grow in a variety of environments, including meadows, along roadsides and in ditches, open wetlands, dry sandy areas, short and tall grass prairies, river banks, irrigation ditches, arid valleys and south facing hillsides.
Milkweed grows in the Elliot Lake area and thus a high potential for the Monarch to occur. The Butterfly atlas has indicated records of monarch butterflies occurring in our area. Monarch annually migrate south, beginning in August and continuing until mid-October.