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Santa Barbara Field Guides Butterflies

     Danaus gilippus


Size: wingspread 2.75-3.5 in.
Recognition: Upperside orange/brown with black and white speckled border, and the FWs have scattered white spots; underside of HW with darkened veins.
Flight period: Adults active from April to November; more likely to be seen here in later part of season.
Hostplants: Like the Monarch, the larvae of the Queen feed only on milkweeds (Asclepias and relatives).
Habitat: Open areas, foothills, and arid desert settings are the most frequent habitats of the Queen.
Distribution: The Queen is a subtropical species, occurring only in the southernmost U.S. In southern California, they are relatively common in foothill and arid regions of San Diego, Imperial and Riverside counties; in the fall, occasional strays may be seen along the coast from Santa Barbara south to San Diego.
Other: Queens and Monarchs are known as the "milkweed butterflies" and both larvae and adults carry toxins from these plants in their bodies, making them distasteful to predators. The Viceroy is a well-known Monarch mimic, profiting from predators learning to avoid its coloration. However, it is less well-known that populations of the Viceroy in the southwestern U.S. mimic the Queen instead.

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