The Monarch and the Viceroy

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

The other day, while photographing around Oliver Mill Colonial Park, I noticed an orange butterfly flitting around the walkway. Once I got my camera on it and took a picture, I recognized it as a Viceroy Butterfly due to the black band on the hind wings. Thinking to myself, I said that is a first since I could not remember taking any images of a Viceroy in the past. I notified my son, who was with me so he could also take pictures.

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)
Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

After downloading the images into LightRoom, preparing to create a keyword for the Viceroy, I found that I did have one previous picture of the Viceroy that I took in 2012.

To show the difference Between a Viceroy and a Monarch, I clicked on the Monarch keyword in LightRoom and brought up a large selection. Much to my surprise, when I looked at the first few images, I saw that it was not a Monarch but a Viceroy that I had taken back in 2010. I just labeled them wrong.


The reason for the look-alike between the 2 different butterflies is the Monarchs are poisonous while the Viceroys are not. This is to help the Viceroy survive in the wild. Monarch butterflies store a poison called Cardiac Glycosides that they had ingested by feeding on the leaves of the milkweed foliage in their larval stage. These are sometimes harmful to its vertebrate predators but ineffective on invertebrate predators. The toxic effect on vertebrates, however, depends on the level of intake. These toxins provide these butterflies with a poisonous defense against its predators such as lizards, birds, and frogs

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