Viceroy Butterfly - Limenitis archippus

Viceroy Butterfly - Limenitis archippus
  • Wing span: 2 1/2 - 3 3/8 inches (6.3 - 8.6 cm).
  • Identification: Resembles the Monarch, with upper side is orange and black; however, the Viceroy has a black line across the hind wing and a single row of white dots in the black marginal band.
  • Life history: Usually the males perch on vegetation or patrol around the host plants to find females, and females lay two to three eggs at the tip of host plant leaves before moving to another. Caterpillars eat their eggshells after they hatch and at night feed on catkins and leaves. Young caterpillars make a ball of leaf bits, dung, and silk which hangs off the leaf on which they are feeding, and this ball may distract predators.
  • Flight: Two to three broods from May-September in most of its range.
  • Caterpillar hosts: Trees in the willow family, and poplars and cottonwoods.
  • Nectar Plants: Early in the season Viceroys feed on aphid honeydew, carrion, dung, and decaying fungi. Later generations feed more often at flowers, favoring composites including aster, goldenrod, joe pye weed, shepherd's needle, and Canada thistle.
  • Habitat: Moist open or shrubby areas such as lake and swamp edges, willow thickets, valley bottoms, wet meadows, and roadsides.
  • Range: Northwest Territories south along the eastern edges of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountains to central Mexico, east through all the eastern United States.
  • Conservation: The Obsolete Viceroy (subspecies obsoleta ) has lost much of its habitat due to development, water impoundment, and the exotic aggressive saltcedar.

Butterflies of North America, Butterflies of Texas
Photo: Courtesy of S. Peregrine Johnson