A member of the same genus, the Queen Butterfly is closely related to the Monarch. A third relative in this genus, the Solider Butterfly, completes the trifecta of butterflies in the Danaus genus found in North America. All three use milkweed as a host plant in addition to sharing similar appearances. Milkweed imparts a chemical that makes the caterpillar and butterfly distasteful to eat.
Queen Butterflies are orange with black borders around the wings. Two rows of tiny white dots sit inside the black border. The tops of the wings are mostly plain orange, but a scattering of white dots sit by the wing tips. Southwestern Queens also have whitish streaks on the hindwings along the black veins. Underneath, the hindwings show bold black veins. A single white spot sits alone near the center, and small white areas border the curved part an interior vein. The forewings do not have black veins, but they do retain the white spotting seen on the other side. Males in Florida also have a black patch on each hindwing that is not seen in males in other regions.
Caterpillars for this butterfly look very similar to Monarch caterpillars. They are also black with yellow and white banding across the body. Unlike the Monarch, the Queen caterpillar has what appear to be three sets of black antennae: one at the head, one at the rear end, and a third set more than halfway down the body. The bases of these antennae may be red depending. The pupal case is green. Milkweed leaves are food for larvae, but adult males take nectar from the flowers of heliotropes, bonesets like Joe Pye Weed, and ageratums or whiteweed in order to collect chemical compounds that help comprise the butterfly’s pheromone. Many males may be found visiting the same plant simultaneously. At night, Queens may rest or roost together.
This large butterfly is found in just a handful of states, and even then, just the southern parts of them. States around the Gulf of Mexico and in the southwest make up the northern part of its range. It is called Reina in Mexico, and can be found as far south as Brazil. In Florida, Queens are more common than Monarchs and fly all year round.
General Characteristics Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns.
Territorial Map U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Prince Edward Is.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used for sensing.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.