Why do viceroy butterflies copy the monarch butterflies?
Monarch and viceroy butterflies look almost the same. Only a keen eye can distinguish that there is one tiny difference between them. The viceroy butterfly has black veins on its wings, whereas the monarch’s wings have yellow veins.
The viceroy butterfly mimics the colors of the monarch butterfly to avoid predators. It’s a simple and effective survival strategy. Viceroys have a striking resemblance to their monarch cousins, but they are only similar in color. They are relatively small and usually measure two inches across their wings
Viceroy and Monarch butterflies
The front wings of a viceroy are black with orange spots on the outside and orange with black spots on the inside. The back wings are primarily orange with black borders and appear as if they were dipped in chocolate at the bottom.
On the other hand, Monarchs can grow up to four inches across their wings. The top of the body is black, while the bottom is white with black veins. A monarch has a two-inch black border on its outer wing and an orange band running along the leading edge of its bottom wing.
Viceroys trick predators into thinking they are poisonous. While both viceroys and monarchs are poisonous, the monarch is 10 times more toxic than the viceroys. This means that if a predator eats a monarch, it will get very sick.
Viceroy butterflies (Limenitis archippus) evolved to mimic monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and queen butterflies (Danaus gilippus). Monarch and queen butterflies are poisonous, at least to predators that eat them. The caterpillars of these species feed on toxic milkweeds.
The chemicals in the milkweeds make the caterpillars and adult butterflies poisonous to avian predators. Viceroys do not feed on milkweeds and are not poisonous; however, they resemble monarchs or queens.
Some birds avoid all orange and black butterflies because they have learned that these species taste bad or make them sick. Therefore, viceroys are safe from predation by birds because they resemble the toxic monarchs or queens.
Things to know about Viceroy butterflies:
The Viceroy butterfly is a type of butterfly that is found in North America. They are usually black and orange with white spots on their wings. They are also known as the Monarch butterfly’s look-alike.
The Viceroy butterflies have a fascinating life cycle. The female lays her eggs on the leaves of milkweed plants, which is the only food for the larvae when they hatch. The larvae then eat all of the leaves and grow into adults, which then fly off to find new plants to lay eggs on.
Zoologist William Henry Edwards first discovered the viceroy in 1879. He was studying the monarchs when he noticed that some other butterflies looked very similar to them. He called these butterflies “viceroys.”
Things to know about Monarch butterflies:
Monarch butterflies are well-known for their lengthy migration. They travel more than 2,000 miles from the northern United States and Canada to central Mexico. While there, they spend their winter in what is known as a “roost,” where they will cluster together in trees by the millions.
The North American monarch population is notable for its annual southward migration in late summer and autumn from the United States and southern Canada to Mexico (a journey of over 3,000 miles) and southward into Central America.
Monarchs cover thousands of miles during the fall migration, with a corresponding multi-generational return north. In the western North American population of monarch butterflies, there is a migratory pattern from west of the Rocky Mountains to southern California for overwintering.