A Myth About Monarchs


Interesting Facts in Easy English

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • ingest: to eat or drink
  • tell apart: to distinguish a difference between people and things
  • hind: back
  • non-toxic: not poisonous
  • resemble: to look alike
  • mimicry: a survival technique where one species evolves to resemble another species

A Myth About Monarchs

Monarch butterflies look pretty, but taste . Birds that eat these orange and black butterflies feel so sick they avoid monarchs for the rest of their lives. A bird that has eaten a monarch usually the viceroy too. The viceroy and monarch are hard to tell apart. The viceroy is slightly smaller and has an extra black band on its hind wing. For over one hundred years, scientists thought the viceroy was a non-toxic mimic that evolved over time to look like a monarch. This type of survival skill is called Batesian mimicry, after a 19th century naturalist named H.W. Bates. New research that came out suggests that this theory of monarchs and viceroys is a myth. In fact, the monarch and the viceroy are both foul tasting. By resembling each other, both species have a better chance of . This type of mimicry is called Müllerian mimicry. Many textbooks and continue to describe the viceroy as a Batesian mimic.

Comprehension Questions

  1. Why don’t birds usually eat more than one monarch in a lifetime?
  2. What are the differences between the viceroy and the monarch butterfly?
  3. What myth was apparently busted in the 1990s?

Discussion Questions: What other examples of mimicry do you know of in nature?

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