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Family Nymphalidae | Subfamily Limenitidinae | Previous | Next

Viceroy
Limenitis archippus (Cramer, 1776)

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Diagnosis: This middle-sized (wingspan: 53 to 81 mm) butterfly is a mimic of the larger Monarch (Danaus plexippus). The upperside is dark orange, with bold black lines on the veins on both wings. There is a row of white spots in the wide black wing borders and in a black line that cuts diagonally across the forewing tip. There is also a postmedian black line that runs across the veins on the hindwing. The underside is similar, but paler.

Subspecies: Only the nominate subspecies is found in Canada.

Range: The Viceroy is widespread in Canada. It is resident from Nova Scotia to Quebec and Ontario, north to James Bay, and in the Prairie Provinces to the northern borders. There are records from Fort Smith and Hay River in the Northwest Territories. It was formerly resident in the southern interior of British Columbia, but was last recorded there at Lillooet in 1930 (Guppy et al., 1994).

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Similar Species: The Monarch is larger, and lacks the black transverse lines on both wings [compare images].

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Viceroy (Limenitis archippus archippus), larva. W. Lukey.

Early Stages: The hump-backed larva is olive green with a pinkish-white saddle. There are two short black horns on the thorax. It feeds mainly on willow (Salix spp.) and poplar (Populus spp.) as well as a few other tree species.

Abundance: The Viceroy is common in most parts of its Canadian range, particularly in the south.

Flight Season: There are two overlapping generations that fly from late May into September in most of Canada.

butterfly image
Viceroy (Limenitis archippus archippus). Ottawa, Ont. T. Beck

Habits: The Viceroy is usually found in or near wet areas, most commonly with willows in the vicinity. Unlike most other members of this genus, the adults regularly visit flowers to sip the nectar. They have a characteristic flap-and-glide flight pattern similar to that of the Monarch.

Remarks: This butterfly is famous for its mimicry of the distasteful Monarch. By imitating a butterfly that repels predators, the Viceroy is less likely to be attacked. Both species have similar ranges in Canada.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.


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Date Modified: 2010-05-31