Viceroy (butterfly)

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Scientific classification
L. archippus
Binomial name
Limenitis archippus
(Cramer, 1776)
Upper side of the wings
A reddish brown Viceroy

The Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) is a species of butterfly. It belongs in the family Nymphalidae. It is found in North America.[1]

Ecology[change | change source]

Colour pattern[change | change source]

The wings are orange. They have black veins and black wing edges. There is a black band across the hind wing (bottom wing). This band can sometimes be faint or missing if the butterfly lives in the southwestern United States. In Florida, the Viceroy is dark reddish brown instead of orange. The wingspan ranges from 6.6 to 7.6 cm (2.6 to 3 in).[2]

Its significance[change | change source]

The orange Viceroys mimic the Monarch (Danaus plexippus). The reddish brown Viceroys mimic the Queen (Danaus gilippus) and the Soldier (Danaus eresimus).[1]

The caterpillar feeds on trees in the willow family Salicaceae, including willows (Salix), and poplars and cottonwoods (Populus). The caterpillars store the salicylic acid in their bodies, which makes them bitter, and upsets predators' stomachs. As further protection, the caterpillars, as well as their chrysalis stage, resemble bird droppings.

The Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) is a North American butterfly with a range from the Northwest Territories along the eastern edges of the Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada mountains, southwards into central Mexico.

Its wings have an orange and black pattern, and over most of its range it is a Müllerian mimic with the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).[3] What this means is that they are both bitter tasting, and they both use the same pattern of colours where they live in the same territory. Müllerian mimicry is a shared warning advertisement, in this case of foul taste.

Flight period[change | change source]

Adults fly in the late morning and early afternoon.[4]

The Viceroy can be found from June to July in northern Canada. It can be found from May to October in southern Canada and the northern United States.[5][6] It is found all year in southern Florida.[5] In the southwestern United States, it is seen from April to November.[7]

Habitat[change | change source]

This butterfly is found in a wide range of wet, open places such as water edges, wet meadows, and freshwater marshes.[5]

Life cycle[change | change source]


The female lays her eggs singly. They are laid at the tip of the host plant leaf (the host plant is the plant that the caterpillar feeds on). The egg is pale green or pale yellow. It turns gray later. The caterpillar feeds at night.[6] It mimics a bird dropping. It is white, brown, black, and olive green. There are two greenish bumps on the thorax. There are also two spines near the head. The chrysalis also mimics a bird dropping. It is white, brown, and black. There is a large brownish bump on the abdomen. The caterpillar hibernates in a leaf shelter.[8] It lays one set of eggs in northern Canada,[6] and 2-3 more groups in southern Canada and the United States.[1]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Jim P. Brock and Kenn Kaufman 2003. Butterflies of North America. Houghton Mifflin, New York, NY. ISBN 0804720134
  2. Ernest M. Shull 1987. The Butterflies of Indiana. Indiana Academy of Science. ISBN 0-253-31292-2
  3. Ritland, David B.; Brower, Lincoln P. (1991). "The viceroy butterfly is not a batesian mimic" (abstract). Nature. 350 (6318): 497–498. Bibcode:1991Natur.350..497R. doi:10.1038/350497a0. S2CID 28667520. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
  4. Fullard, James H.; Napoleone, Nadia (2001). "Diel flight periodicity and the evolution of auditory defences in the Macrolepidoptera" (PDF). Animal Behaviour. 62 (2): 349–368. doi:10.1006/anbe.2001.1753. S2CID 53182157.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Rich Cech and Guy Tudor 2005. Butterflies of the East Coast. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. ISBN 0-691-09055-6
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 James A. Scott 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA. ISBN 0-8047-2013-4
  7. Bob Stewart, Priscilla Brodkin and Hank Brodkin 2001. Butterflies of Arizona. West Coast Lady Press, Arcata, CA. ISBN 0-9663072-1-6
  8. David L. Wagner 2005. Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. ISBN 0-691-12144-3

Other websites[change | change source]