Monarch and Viceroy


Monarch butterflies are probably one of the most recognizable butterflies in north America. A lot of their fame comes from the up to 3,000 mile journey they make from all over the United Stated to California or Mexico for the winter. If they do not begin this journey soon enough, the cold weather will kill them. The adults only ever make one round trip to Mexico, and by the next year, when it is time to migrate again, a few generations have already come and gone. These butterflies begin their short life in a small egg which is about 1/8 inch long. After 3-15 days, the eggs hatch producing a caterpillar. During the next 2 weeks, the caterpillars eat as much milkweed as they can. This diet of milkweed gives them their nasty taste when they grow older. Next, they create a hard shell around them, called a chrysalis. After about 2 more weeks, they emerge as a butterfly with a wingspan of up to 4 inches. For a few hours, they cannot fly while waiting for their wings to harden. The monarchs then mate and lay eggs. Those born in late summer or early fall are the only ones that fly south.


The viceroy is butterfly which is smaller, but quite similar to, the monarch. The viceroy and monarch illustrate batesian mimicry. The main difference is the curved line on the lower wings of the viceroy which the monarch does not have. The viceroy’s diet (tree sap, over-ripe fruit, flower nectar, etc.) would make them a sweet treat to their predators, if they could distinguish the viceroy and the monarch. As I said earlier, they are smaller than monarchs, growing only up to three inches long. The viceroy butterflies lay their eggs near water. When they hatch, the horned caterpillars start eating leaves on trees. After a few weeks, the caterpillars form chrysalises which look like bird droppings. A few weeks after they emerge, they mate, lay eggs and die.

Don’t forget to check out the activity sheet under sources and guess what the next animal is!

Here’s the picture of next week’s animal.





Photo credits:

  • Viceroy: Wikipedia user:D. Gordon E. Robertson
  • Monarch: Wikipedia user:Kenneth Dwain Harrelson
  • Mystery animal: public domain

2 Responses

  1. Sharon Madson
    Sharon Madson at |

    He does have red eyes. 🙂 But he has pretty blue legs, too.

  2. Kurt Whiteley
    Kurt Whiteley at |

    Red eye tree frog

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