The main difference between Monarch and viceroy butterfly is that monarch butterfly has strips extending from the top to the bottom of the hindwings whereas viceroy butterfly has a horizontal black strip crossing the vertical strips of the hindwing in the postmedian level.
Both monarch and viceroy butterflies are unpalatable and they share the similar color pattern in their wings. Therefore, they are an example of Müllerian mimicry. Both butterflies have bright orange color with black strips. This bright orange color is a type of advertising coloration used to warn predators.
Key Areas Covered
1. Monarch Butterfly
– Definition, Facts, Importance
2. Viceroy Butterfly
– Definition, Facts, Importance
3. What are the Similarities Between Monarch and Viceroy Butterfly
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Monarch and Viceroy Butterfly
– Comparison of Key Differences
Key Terms: Hindwing, Horizontal Black Strip, Monarch Butterfly, Müllerian Mimicry, Viceroy Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly – Definition, Facts, Importance
A monarch butterfly is a large migratory butterfly with orange and black. They are mainly found in North America. This butterfly is about four inches wide when it opens its wings. The black veins are thicker in female’s wings than males. Monarch butterflies live in meadows and open fields with milkweeds during spring and summer. They spend the winter hundreds of miles away from the starting point and are found at high altitudes in central Mexico and on the coast of southern California during winter. A female monarch butterfly is shown in figure 1.
The larva of this butterfly feeds on milkweed leaves. The adult depends on its nectar. Hence, they store alkaloids from the milkweed, which makes the taste of the butterfly horrible to its predators.
Viceroy Butterfly – Definition, Facts, Importance
Viceroy butterfly is a showy, North American nymphalid butterfly, closely mimicking the monarch in coloration. Its color and the pattern of the black strips are same as the monarch butterfly. However, viceroy butterflies are smaller than monarch butterflies. They also have a horizontal, black strip on their hindwing. Viceroy butterflies have tiny hairy forelegs. Hence, they are called brush-footed butterflies. A comparison between monarch and viceroy butterflies is shown in figure 2.
During both larval and adult stages, viceroy butterflies depend on the willow, poplar, and aspen for their diet. Hence, they taste horrible to their predators, same as the monarch butterflies. As mentioned above, both viceroy and monarch butterflies share similar coloration as well, warning their predators to not to eat them. Therefore, both monarch and viceroy butterflies share Müllerian mimicry.
Similarities Between Monarch and Viceroy Butterfly
- Monarch and viceroy butterflies have forewings and hindwings.
- Both have similar coloration in the wings with bright orange with black color strips.
- Both have black strips extending from top to bottom of the hindwing.
- The border of the wings of both butterflies is black and consists of several white spots.
- Both butterflies are unpalatable.
- Both butterflies exhibit Müllerian mimicry.
- The bright orange color in both is a type of advertising coloration used to warn predators.
- Both undergo complete metamorphosis wherein the eggs, caterpillars, and the adults are the stages of their life cycle.
- Caterpillars of both types of butterflies feed on leaves with foul-taste and toxic chemicals.
- Caterpillars incorporate toxic chemicals into the body of the adult butterfly.
Difference Between Monarch and Viceroy Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly: A large migratory butterfly with orange and black mainly found in North America
Viceroy Butterfly: A showy, North American nymphalid butterfly, closely mimicking the monarch in coloration
Monarch Butterfly: Danaus plexippus
Viceroy Butterfly: Limenitis archippus
Monarch Butterfly: Found in North and South America, the Caribbean, Oceania, and parts of Europe
Viceroy Butterfly: Found in North America, Canada to northern Mexico
Monarch Butterfly: Wing size ranges from 2 ½ to 3 3/8 inches
Viceroy Butterfly: Wing size ranges from 3 3/8 to 4 7/8 inches
Horizontal Black Strip
Monarch Butterfly: Do not have a horizontal black strip in the hindwing
Viceroy Butterfly: Have a horizontal black strip in the postmedian of the hindwing
Monarch Butterfly: Float-like and exhibits a “flap, flap, glide” pattern
Viceroy Butterfly: Faster and erratic
Monarch Butterfly: Migrate in each autumn
Viceroy Butterfly: Do not migrate
Monarch Butterfly: Caterpillars are yellow and have vivid black strips
Viceroy Butterfly: Caterpillars look like twigs. They are lump-like and appear in subdued green and brown
Monarch Butterfly: Caterpillars feed on milkweed leaves
Viceroy Butterfly: Caterpillars feed on poplar, willow, and alder leaves
The monarch butterfly has black strips, which extend from top to bottom of the hindwing while viceroy butterfly has vertical black strips as well as a horizontal black strip, crossing the vertical strips. Both monarch and viceroy butterflies share a characteristic bright orange color and vertical, black strips. They are an example of Müllerian mimicry since both species are unpalatable and share similar warning coloration. However, the main difference between monarch and viceroy butterfly is the presence of a horizontal, black strip in the viceroy butterfly.
1. “Monarch Butterfly – Danaus Plexippus.” Atlantic Puffin – Fratercula Arctica – NatureWorks, Available here.
2. “Viceroy Butterfly – Limenitis Archippus .” Atlantic Puffin – Fratercula Arctica – NatureWorks, Available here.
1. “Monarch Viceroy Mimicry Comparison” By PiccoloNamek (2005-08-22, uploaded by User:Lokal_Profil on 13:50, June 15, 2006) and Derek Ramsey (User:Ram-Man). – Image:Viceroy Butterfly.jpg and Image:Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus Purple Coneflower 3008.jpg (GFDL 1.2) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Monarch” by John Flannery (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr
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