or Monarch? It's a Cinch!
by Carol Cullar
Rio Bravo Nature Center Foundation
Eagle Pass, Texas
A fellow monarch enthusiast asked: But how do you
tell queens and monarchs apart?
I had to
confess that I couldn't at first. But after almost ten years of "monarching,"
I began to use a technique used by birdwatchers. They can look at a far
away bird or a bird against the light and still tell you "that's
a flycatcher" or there goes a sharpie!" Their two techniques
are silhouette of the form and, even more telling, characteristic flight,
perching position, and species behavior.
don't behave like Queens and vice versa. Generally, Monarchs are a bit
larger than Queens. This could account for their slightly slower wing-beats.
Monarchs seem measured and dignified as they fly.
- If I
see a Daneus that is acting "silly" — fluttering its
wings rapidly or jinking around (bouncing side to side or up and down)
— then I know it's a Queen.
- If I
see a Daneus flying about 18" to 24" off the ground, it's
usually a Queen. Monarchs tend to fly further above the ground: not
when ovipositing, but when migrating.
- If one
is close enough to the butterfly to see some color, then the general
over-all appearance of the Queen is more uniformly brown or golden tawny
tan than the Monarch.
- I don't
see Queens clustering. That's Monarch behavior.
about their eggs? I can't tell them apart. Caterpillars? Queens have
an extra set of feelers in the middle of their bodies and down here
in SW Texas we're seeing more and more Queen caterpillars with gorgeous
deep maroon coloration between their other colored stripes.