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LIMENTINIS ARCHIPPUS
VICEROY BUTTERFLY

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Classification

Phylum Arthropoda

Class Insecta

Order Lepidoptera

Family Nymphalidae

Genus Limenitis

Species L. Archippus

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NEWS OF THE LEPIDOPTERISTS SOCIETY

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LIMENTINIS ARCHIPPUS
VICEROY BUTTERFLY

The viceroy (Limenitis archippus) is a North American butterfly that ranges through most of the contiguous United States as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. The westernmost portion of its range extends from the Northwest Territories along the eastern edges of the Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada mountains, southwards into central Mexico. Its easternmost range extends along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of North America from Nova Scotia into Texas.

Limenitis is a genus of brush-footed butterflies, commonly called the admirals.

Its wings feature an orange and black pattern, and over most of its range it is a Müllerian mimic with the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). The viceroy's wingspan is between 53 and 81 mm . It can be distinguished from the monarch by its smaller size and the postmedian black line that runs across the veins on the hindwing.

The caterpillar feeds on trees in the willow family Salicaceae, including willows , and poplars and cottonwoods . The caterpillars sequester the salicylic acid in their bodies, which makes them bitter, and upsets predators' stomachs. As further protection, the caterpillars, as well as their chrysalis stage, resemble bird droppings.

Adults are strictly diurnal, flying preferentially in the late morning and early afternoon. Adult viceroys nectar on milkweeds, thistles and other common flowers. During most of the day, males perch on vegetation or patrol around the host plants to find females. Females lay eggs at the tip of host plant leaves, depositing only two or three eggs on a plant before moving to another. Caterpillars eat their eggshells after they hatch, then at night feed on catkins and leaves. Young caterpillars make a ball of leaf bits, dung, and silk which hangs off the leaf on which they are feeding; the dangling mass may distract predators. Third-stage caterpillars make a shelter from a rolled leaf tip in which to spend the winter. The Viceroy is a Mullerian mimic of the Monarch, and it is also distasteful.


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