Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) infected Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexxipus)
OE is a protozoan parasite that is spread from spores. The spores are packed between scales on an infected Monarch's body and when it lays eggs, the OE often attaches to the egg shell. OE causes weakness, disfigurement, and lethargy. These deformed butterflies don't live long and cannot be saved.
OE infection in an adult can be confirmed by pressing a piece of clear tape on the butterfly's abdomen to pick up the spores. OE spores are visible under a microscope, and they look like tiny footballs.
Habitat: Coastal garden
''Ophryocystis elektroscirrha'' is an obligate, neogregarine protozoan parasite that infects monarch and queen butterflies. There are no other known hosts. The species was first discovered in Florida, around the late 1960s. Since then, it has been found in every monarch population examined to date, including monarchs sampled in North America, Hawaii, Australia, Cuba, and Central and South America.
Dormant spores occur on the cuticles of butterflies, in between the butterfly's scales... more