The warm September sun washes over the marshlands on Muddlety Creek as I creep along the edges watching for various wildlife to present themselves before my lens. In excitement I spotted the bright orange wings of a monarch butterfly resting on the leaves of an alder tree. But I was fooled. This was not a monarch. It’s in the “Royal Admiralty” along with the monarch but it’s a pretender to the butterfly throne. It is a Viceroy Butterfly. In fact, every butterfly that I have published as a monarch this year have actually been Viceroy Butterflies. The two butterflies along with the Queen Butterfly are closely related and all 3 have similar colors and markings but the heavy dark bar on the forewing of the Viceroy is the quickest way to distinguish it from the Monarch. The marshlands here are full of willows and that may account for the heavy concentration of Viceroy Butterflies in the area. Where the monarch hosts it’s eggs and caterpillars on milkweed the Viceroy hosts on willows. The Viceroy Butterfly concentrates the Salicylic Acid ( AKA aspirin) found in willows and poplars ( they also host on poplars) and this makes them poison to predators. Another thing that the Viceroy does to protect it’s babies is that the caterpillar looks like bird droppings. Which would certainly take them off the menu for birds.
That’s it for tonight friends. Be safe and be blessed throughout your days!
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