Butterfly populations are a very good indicator of the health of an area's ecosystem !!

   There are subtle differences between monarchs and viceroys; however, an eye to the minute details will enable anyone to tell the difference between the two. (The quickest is to look for the parallel line along the lower edge of the Viceroy dorsal wing. Monarchs do not have this parallel black line.)

     Viceroy butterfly wings range between 2 ½ and 3 3/8 inches. Monarch butterfly wings range between 3 3/8 and 4 7/8 inches.
   Another difference between viceroys and monarchs is that monarch butterflies migrate each autumn. Viceroy butterflies do not migrate. They spend winter months keeping warm in a rolled-up poplar or willow leaf.

 *Viceroy butterflies have bright orange and black colors and look almost identical to the Monarch butterfly. The Viceroy benefits from looking like a Monarch butterfly by having predators avoid them as they do the Monarchs. (Batesan mimicry)

   (Many predators avoid eating Monarchs because of the milkweed that they eat as caterpillars which makes them poisonous to these predators.)               Because Viceroys are mistaken for Monarchs,

they can escape the appetites of these predators as well.   

   * There are seven subspecies of Viceroy butterflies.
2011_08_10_8448 CrRzLeCe.jpg
Viceroy (Limentis  archippus)
Avg. Wingspan: 53 - 81 mm / 2.1 - 3.2 "  
Diet: caterpillars feed on the leaves of willow and poplar trees. 
Diet: adults eat carrion, dung, fungi and the nectar of flowers from the  Asteraceae family, such as golden rod, asters and thistles.

Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta, Order: Lepidoptera

* The Viceroy is the official state butterfly of Kentucky.
* Being Brush-footed butterflies, Viceroys have a short pair of fore legs that are used to taste food, and two pairs of longer rear legs that are used for propulsion.
A Monarch Butterfly
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

  ** As seen in these images of a Monarch and a Viceroy, their appearances are very similar. This is because the two species practice Batesian Mimicry. (The Monarch larva eat milkweed exclusively, which causes them to be poisonous to predators when the larva become butterflies.)

   Because of this toxicity, predators avoid eating Monarchs. The Viceroy has evolved to look very similar to the Monarch, in able to avail itself of the predator's distaste for and avoidance of Monarchs.

   Most scientists believe that the relationship between these tow is actually a Mullerian Mimicry, where the 2 species both look alike and are both distasteful to predators.

   (The easiest way to differentiate between the Monarch and the Viceroy is to look for the transverse black lines on the trailing edge of the wings. The Viceroy has these transverse lines, whereas the Monarch does not.)

The single biggest threat to butterfly survival is habitat destruction!!