|Viceroy Butterfly - Limenitis archippus|
Superfamily: Papilionidae / Family Nymphalidae (Brushfoot butterflies) / Subfamily: Limenitidinae
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Live viceroy and monarch butterflies photographed at DuPage County, Illinois.
Male viceroys perch on vegetation and patrol a territory waiting for females. Copulation is accomplished tail-to-tail, with the much larger female "towing" the male around. I've seen viceroys flying in tandem with the female towing the male in a very rapid, straight-line flight across my field of view, a distance of many dozens of yards - they fly very well, connected.
Limenitis, the genus name, comes from the Latin for "marsh", but I often find viceroys in tall grass or weedy fields some distance from any water or swampy areas.
The resemblance of the viceroy to the monarch is not the result of a close genetic relationship. They come from different subfamilies and have different habits (the monarch famously migrates, the viceroy not so much).
It is frequently noted that the Viceroy (a non-toxic butterfly) mimics the aposematic coloring of the supposedly toxic Monarch butterfly. However, recent research suggests this so-called Batesian mimicry may not be as simple as first thought.
Viceroy caterpillars feed on trees and shrubs in the family Salicaceae, the willows (Salix), and polars (Populus), Salicylic acid, a precursor to acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), is thus concentrated in their bodies, providing an extremely bitter meal for any would-be predator. Viceroy larvae are well-camouflaged as bird droppings, as are many moth caterpillars as well as adult moths.
Female Viceroy Butterfly
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