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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Amaze-wing Facts About The Beautiful Viceroy Butterfly

Viceroys butterfly facts tell us that they show a characteristic of polymorphism.

The Limenitis archippus, known as the viceroy butterfly, is one of the commonly found butterflies in the North American region through most of the United States and some parts of central Mexico and Florida. They are smaller than monarch butterflies. The preference of habitat for the viceroy butterfly may vary from slightly shrubby areas that are usually wet or near water which include wet meadows, marshes, ponds and lakes, railroad tracks, and roadsides.

These viceroy butterflies were earlier found to be a Batesian mimic of the monarch butterfly,  whereby a harmless species of mimics a more toxic one. However, the viceroy has been found out to be distasteful to predators, and so is now considered an example of Mullerian mimicry, where two or more poisonous species mimic each other to their mutual benefit. In terms of their description, the wings have an orange and black line across, which is seen most commonly among Mullerian mimicry. The wings may spread up to a range of between 2.1-3.2 in (53-81 mm). In terms of being distinguished from monarch butterflies it can be done easily as they are a bit smaller in size with respect to them, also the postmedian black line that runs across the veins is on the hindwing which is different from the monarch. The viceroy is said to copy the pattern of the monarch (Danaus plexippus) with black striping and orange areas.

Do you want to know interesting facts about the viceroy butterfly? Then read on. For facts about other insects, check out the monarch butterfly and purple emperor butterfly.

Viceroy Butterfly Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Viceroy Butterfly?

The viceroy Limenitis archippus butterflies are a type of insect.  

What class of animal does a Viceroy Butterfly belong to?

The viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) comes under the classification of Insecta.

How many Viceroy Butterflies are there in the world?

There is no exact count on how many viceroy butterflies are present in the world currently, but since they are not extinct or Least Concern, it can be concluded that there are plenty of these butterflies.

Where does a Viceroy Butterfly live?

The viceroy butterflies prefer to lives in areas where meadows, marshes, and swamps are present, and in terms of food, they prefer other wet areas with willow, aspen, and poplar trees.

What is a Viceroy Butterfly's habitat?

Their habitat mainly consists of meadows, swamps, marshes, lake and pond edges, roadsides, lowlands, backyards, which are mostly surrounded by flowers or trees. They love to roam around and are found in most parts of North America, along the eastern coast and Florida.

Who do Viceroy Butterflies live with?

Like all the insects, these butterflies live with their packs as in packs they have a queen and all the other members, males, and females, and eggs are taken care of. Nevertheless, they can be considered as solitary insects.

How long does a Viceroy Butterfly live?

Viceroys of the genus Limenitis tend to have a short lifespan of no more than 12 months.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction process in the butterflies is not too complex but the birth cycle is more complicated and goes from various stages. The female is the carrier of the eggs which mainly occurs in the afternoon, then she has to deposit one egg on the tip of one leaf and can only choose leaves that have not been eaten by other insects. She can deposit about three eggs per leaves sapling. The first step of the life cycle consists of the eggs being larva to a caterpillar. They usually hatch out from eggs within three to four days. After that, it has to feed a lot from different kinds of willow leaves, till the time they reach the hibernating stage which comes approximately in three weeks. Then, the caterpillar goes into the next stage which is known as pupa where it covers itself with a self-made cocoon, and within a week or two, out of that cocoon will burst a beautiful viceroy butterfly.  

What is their conservation status?

These butterflies are considered as a Least Concern species in the world index of animals.

Viceroy Butterfly Fun Facts

What do Viceroy Butterflies look like?

The look of these butterflies is not different from others as the wings have an orange and black line across, which is seen most common among Mullerian mimicry. The wings may spread up to a range of between 2.1-3.2 in (53-81 mm).

Viceroy butterflies show a slow flap and glide flying pattern.

How cute are they?

Butterflies can be called cute because most people around the world love seeing a butterfly flying around as their colors are always attractive to see.

How do they communicate?

There are no specific means with which this butterfly can communicate. There might be some communication ways which are through the pollen grains or the smell which they leave behind.

How big is a Viceroy Butterfly?

In terms of the size of the viceroy Limenitis archippus butterfly, they are usually pretty small including the wings which may spread up to a range of between 2.1-3.2 in (53-81 mm).

How fast can Viceroy Butterflies fly?

They can fly at a normal speed with which all the other species of butterflies or insects can.

How much does a Viceroy Butterfly weigh?

Due to being very small in size and feeling like a feather, the viceroy Limenitis archippus doesn't weigh too much. They can weigh less than half a gram.

What are their male and female names of the species?

These viceroys butterfly do have a scientific name which is Limenitis archippus, but other than that there are no specific names for males and females of the species.

What would you call a baby Viceroy Butterfly?

There is no specific name with which we can call a baby Viceroy butterfly.

What do they eat?

Adult viceroy butterflies usually have nectar from different flower-like milkweeds, thistles, and other common flowers. The caterpillar of the viceroy family feeds on trees in the willow family Salicaceae, which include willows Salix and poplars and cottonwoods. They also eat any different kind of leaf.

Are they dangerous?

The viceroys are known to mimic monarch butterflies which are poisonous. It was thought that they are not poisonous and exhibited Batesian mimicry, however, later scientists discovered that the viceroys and monarchs are in fact examples of Mullerian mimicry and so are just as poisonous as the monarchs.

Would they make a good pet?

Although there are some people who do keep butterflies as pets, given that they could be poisonous, it is best not to keep viceroys at home. It is also preferable to leaves these viceroys to their wet meadows in the wild.

Did you know...

The body temperature of a butterfly may vary from time to time as during flight its wing muscles become warm in order to fly but the body temperature remains the same as the surroundings. This is due to the dark colors on the viceroy's wings which help to absorb heat from the sun.

Viceroy Butterfly vs. Monarch Butterfly

In terms of being distinguished from monarch butterflies, it can be done easily as they are a bit smaller in size with respect to them, also by the postmedian black line that runs across the veins is on the hindwing which is different from the monarch. The viceroy Limenitis archippus is said to copy the pattern of the monarch (Danaus plexippus) with black striping and orange areas. However, there is one row of white spots within the black fore and hind wing bands with which we can identify them very easily and can distinguish between other butterflies. Also, the caterpillars of the viceroys and monarchs are differentiable.

How does the Viceroy Butterfly protect itself?

The viceroy adult butterflies protect themselves with the help of a camouflage trick. Thanks to their unique and vibrant colors they often tend to blend into the surrounding which eventually helps them to protect themselves from predators. The viceroys also protect themselves by mimicking the monarchs to confuse predators.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including Morpho butterfly, or luna moth.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our viceroy butterfly coloring pages.

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