Besides the specially designed navigation system, the fully grown monarch butterfly has several other fascinating design features. For example, the caterpillar goes into the chrysalis stage completely blind, having thrown away its six simple eyes, which could only see black and white. The butterfly emerges with two new compound eyes that can see every color that a human can see plus ultraviolet light. Each eye has 6,000 lenses or simple eyes. The lens system allows the monarch to see in all directions simultaneously. The monarch’s eyes are the most elaborate and complex in all the animal kingdom. It can see objects up close as small as .04 inches and large objects, like humans, 20 feet away.
Also, the two antennas on the monarch’s head are very important. They are used to balance the butterfly as it flies. Removing one antenna causes the butterfly to fly in circles. On the tip of each female’s antenna is a red smell sensor capable of smelling the male monarch’s flowery perfume as far as two miles away.
Before the female monarch lays its eggs it tests the plant leaf to see if it is suitable. It taps the leaf with its two forelegs and uses six sharp microscopic needles on its forelegs to break the leafs surface causing juices to exude from the leaf. The two antenna are lowered at the same time to smell the leafs juices and the tastes sensors on the bottom of the other four legs are used to determine if the leaf is a suitable place to lay her eggs. These taste sensors are 2,000 times more sensitive to the taste of sugar than our human taste buds. If the eggs are laid on the wrong type of leaf there would not be another generation of monarch. This design feature had to be right the first time. There was no time for an evolutionary process.
The monarch butterfly has four wings. On these four wings are about one million scales. Each of these scales are filed with air, giving them a low density, which enables the butterfly to fly more easily. The monarch cruises at about 10 miles per hour, but can fly as fast as 30 miles per hour in still air. Though the monarch will usually fly close to the ground they have been seen at altitudes as high as 12,000 feet.
Last edited by Admin on Tue Jul 01, 2014 4:53 pm; edited 3 times in total