Viceroy | Butterfly of the Month

Viceroy Butterfly

Limenitis archippus

Viceroy Butterfly

"Viceroys are an amazing mimic of Monarch butterflies in coloration, with a rich dark orange on the dorsal side of the forewings and hindwings, intersected with black vein lines and wingtips. The ventral side of the wings are muted orange with black vein lines. Both fore and hind wings have a thick black margin with orange spots on the dorsal side and white spots on the ventral side in Viceroys. Whereas Monarch have white spots in the black margin on both the dorsal and ventral sides.

Despite likeness in coloration Viceroys and Monarchs are generally different in size with the Viceroy being smaller. Also, when perched, the Viceroy tends to have its wings spread with a clear view of the dorsal side and the Monarchs tend to perch with their wings closed.

Viceroys are classed to the genus Leminitis (Admirals) and are also of the Nymphalidae Family.

Another butterfly related to the Admiral is the common Lorquin’s Admiral we will cover in another issue.

The theory behind the Viceroy’s “mimcry” of Monarchs is that Monarchs have a bitter taste and thus are avoided by birds seeking to make a meal of a butterfly. Another strategy the Viceroy has evolved to reduce risks of predation is the fact that their larva resemble bird droppings, i.e., bird poop. However there are other butterfly species whose pupae resembles bird droppings also."

"Viceroys are “on the wing” from early Spring to late Fall and they overwinter in early larval form (instar) in a hibernaculum. Emerging in the spring to feed on leaves and catkins of the larval host plant – willows. Adult Viceroys food sources include willow sap, thistle, aster, and milkweed.

Although a Viceroy has not been clearly documented north of Brewster since 1920, Dale Swedberg, swears he saw one along the Okanogan River between Janis and Riverside on September 8, 2018 while on a kayak trip."

~ Dale Swedberg | Local Naturalist & Retired Sinlahekin Wildlife Area Manager

To learn more about the Viceroy Butterfly, 

The Washington Butterfly Association (WABA) is a great organization for those seeking to learn more about butterflies and perhaps get in on organized butterfly field trips. WABA has held at least 2 annual conferences in Okanogan County with field trips lead by very knowledgeable individuals.

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