Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Monarch butterfly claw (Danaus plexippus). Also visible is the last tarsal segment with thick setae. Insect claws are used to hold on to rough surfaces such as leaves and flowers. In two to five weeks of egg-laying a female will lay about 700 eggs. Generally, eggs hatch in 4 days, but cool temperatures delay hatching up to 12 days. Newly hatched caterpillars feed on milkweed, their sole source of food. Milkweed contains a poison that is harmless to monarchs, but which sickens predators. A caterpillar eventually attaches itself to a twig, sheds and forms a chrysalis from which an adult monarch butterfly emerges. An adult lives six weeks in summer but those that migrate can live six to nine months over winter. Magnification: x8 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
September 13th, 2018
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