As you search for the most wanted butterfly this spring, beware of an
impostor! There's another butterfly out there that's disguised as a monarch.
look exactly like monarchs to the untrained observer. Viceroys "mimic"
monarchs in appearance. This is a strategy to avoid predation.
you know, monarch caterpillars eat milkweed. There is a white substance
in the milkweed that contains a chemical which is toxic to many animals--but
not to monarchs. This toxin carries over to the adult, and predators know
to avoid eating monarch butterflies because of this poison. Because viceroys
look so much like monarchs, they avoid being eaten too!
As we track
the monarch butterfly migration each spring, we are always concerned about
- For example,
how can we be sure people are not reporting the first viceroy they see?
How to Tell a Viceroy from a Monarch Butterfly
Do some research! Pull out your field guide to butterflies and make sure
you can tell the difference between monarchs and viceroys. Then place
a call to your local nature center and see if they can help you answer
are the best fields mark to distinguish between a monarch and a viceroy?
- Find out
when viceroys are first seen in the spring where you live.
do viceroy butterflies spend the winter?
- At what
stage of their life cycle do they overwinter, as an egg, larva or adult?
try it? Now see what the experts