This Is Not OE Ophryocystis elektroscirrha

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Checking Monarchs for OE; What Do You See Besides Scales and OE Spores?

When one has never seen OE spores through a microscope, it may be confusing to look for spores. There can be other 'things'. What are they? Here are photos of a few items found when looking through a microscope. First, three photos of OE spores.

OE spores are perfectly shaped, a pointed oval, like a football. Over 100 can fit on one butterfly scale. (Learn how to check Monarch and other Danaus sp butterflies here.)

Note: a few spores may be on only part of the slide. Not all OE infected butterflies have as many scales as those that were used for these photos.
oe spores and monarch butterfly abdomen scales
YES, these ARE
OE Spores (Monarch)
Ophryscystis elektroscirrha
oe spores and monarch butterfly abdomen scales
YES, these ARE
OE Spores(Monarch)
Ophryscystis elektroscirrha
oe ophryocystis elektroschirra spores and scales from a queen butterfly danaus
YES, these ARE
OE Spores
On a Queen butterfly

If the butterfly was wild-caught or flying around flowering plants, some 'things' may be pollen picked up from the flowers from which they were drinking nectar. Although some types of pollen resembles OE spores, note that pollen particles are not smooth football shapes.

Note the similarity between OE spores in the first photo above and tropical milkweed pollen in the first photo below.
tropical milkweed asclepias curassavica flower pollen
Tropical Milkweed
flower pollen

joe pye weed flower pollen
Joe Pye Weed
flower pollen

indigo spires salvia flower pollen
Indigo Spires Salvia
flower pollen


Other than pollen, dust will stick to the abdomen of a butterfly if it emerges in a room. Landing on windowsills, tops of bookcases, and other dusty spots causes these particles to stick to the butterfly. Note that the shape of dust particles are not smooth football shapes.

When taped, a butterfly may pee at the same time. When pee or liquid touches scales, the scales become clear.
monarch scales and dust particles
Monarch butterfly
scales with irregular
shaped dust particles
monarch butterfly scales turn clear when butterfly pee touches the scales
Monarch scales
turning clear
from Monarch pee
monarch butterfly scales turn clear when butterfly pee touches the scales
Monarch scales
turned clear
from Monarch pee

CLEAR tape should be used to check for OE. "Transparent" tape isn't clear. The first photo below shows OE spores through clear tape. The second photo is of OE spores from the same butterfly through "tansparent" tape. The third photos shows OE spores through both clear and "transparent" tape. Clear tape is obviously clear on the upper left in the photo and "transparent" tape in the lower right of the photo.
queen butterfly danaus oe ophyrocystis elektroscirrha spores
OE spores
using clear tape


OE spores using
"transparent"tape


OE spores



If you would like someone to check some slides or tape for you, please send your tape (clear tape) to:
OE Check
Shady Oak Butterfly Farm
12876 SW CR 231
Brooker, FL 32622

If you would prefer to remain anonymous, don't use a return address and give us a temporary email address to write you after we check the tape. No names or identification is needed. We DO need some type of contact information to tell you the results!

If you do not have clear tape and slides, please send a padded SASE and $2 to the above address and we'll send a roll of tape and a couple of slides to you. Clear tape is available nearly anywhere. In place of a slide, you can fold the clear tape back on itself. If you use "transparent" tape, we cannot check the slides for you.

This offer is simply to help people who are raising butterflies at their farm, in their school, or in their homes. We are not tracking OE. If you would like to participate in the University of Minnesota's OE studies, please check out The Monarch Larvae Monitoring Project.