Mortality of the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus L.): Avian Predation at Five Overwintering Sites in Mexico

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Science  25 May 1979:
Vol. 204, Issue 4395, pp. 847-851
DOI: 10.1126/science.204.4395.847


Analyses of predated butterflies on the forest floor at five monarch overwintering sites in Mexico and observations of birds foraging in mixed flocks indicate that individual birds of several species have learned to penetrate the monarch's cardenolide-based chemical defense. Predation is inversely proportional to colony size and appears to be one evolutionary explanation of the dense aggregations.

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