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.
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