Danaus chrysippus mating, Crete - photo © Thanasis Kasvikis

Danaus chrysippus mating, Crete - photo © Thanasis Kasvikis

Danaus chrysippus


Danaus chrysippus is a butterfly of the family Nymphalidae on the island of Crete, Greece.

Scientific name

Danaus chrysippus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common name

African Monarch, Plain Tiger


Family: Nymphalidae > Subfamily: Danainae > Tribus > Danaini > Genus: Danaus


Male to female: 70-80 mm


African Monarch is mainly orange-colored on both sides of the wings. The upper side of the wings has a tawny color with a black forewing, black wing margins, and white spots. The thorax is black with several white spots.

This species exhibits slight sexual dimorphism, as the male has a large black spot on his hindwings, which the female lacks. Generally, the species is polymorphic, appearing with variations in coloring and patterning within populations.

Danaus chrysippus encompasses a few color forms; some of them recently elevated to subspecies. Danaus chrysippus f. alcippus, a variant infrequently seen in the Mediterranean, especially in the east of the region, was observed on the island of Crete. 


The caterpillar and the butterfly are protected from predators due to the alkaloids that they acquire from the plants they eat.

The butterflies often fly slowly while close to the ground in a straight line so that predators can recognize their bright warning coloration easily and avoid eating them.

The butterfly has a strong flight and usually flies near the surface of the sea.


Danaus chrysippus in Crete can be found in meadows, rocky slopes, often along the coast, fields near the seaside in very wet places, mostly near parks and gardens.

Food plant

The larva feeds on Apocynaceae plants.

Flight Period
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

It is a strong migrant butterfly. It reaches the coastal regions of the island during migration from Africa, although there can be temporary breeding populations in other regions.

The butterfly has a unique appearance in Crete and can’t be confused with any other butterflies on the island.


Data not available (NA)

(*European Red List of Butterflies, 2010).

Danaus Chrysippus Distribution Map

*based on http://www.pamperis.gr/THE_BUTTERFLIES_OF_GREECE/MAPS.html

Danaus chrysippus location map based on greek butterflies distributions maps by L.N. Pamperis (revised 2021)