Danaus gilippus

Photographs by Susan Leach Snyder


The adult queen butterfly resembles the monarch in its appearance. Both butterflies are orange with white and black markings; however, the queen is brownish-orange and smaller. Queens lack the black wing veins that monarchs have when observed with their wings open. Below left is a queen; below right is a monarch.

Like monarchs, queens lay their eggs on a variety milkweed plants. Once the eggs hatch, the milkweed leaves and stems are consumed by the caterpillars.

Milkweed contains substances called cardenolides or cardiac glycosides. These chemicals are poisonous to most vertebrates. Predators have learned to avoid eating both the caterpillars and the adults of these butterflies, or they have developed a way to deal with the toxins. Queens are actually more poisonous than monarchs.

Although to date no eggs, caterpillars, or chrysalises of the queen have been found in the Conservancy's Lagoon Trail gardens, they are likely present. The eggs are white and laid singly, like the monarch. Unlike the monarch caterpillar, the queen caterpillar has three pairs of thread-like structures on its body, while the monarch has just two pairs.

Adult queens are often seen in the gardens sipping nectar from mist flowers, as shown above in the first photograph, and porterweed, as shown below.



Index to Butterfly and Moth Visitors to the Conservancy Ecotone Trail

Index To Photographs of Plants in the Gardens

Plant Lists by Garden

Conservancy of Southwest Florida Ecotone Home Page

Conservancy of Southwest Florida Home Page.

Please report errors to Susan Snyder at susanleachsnyder@gmail.com