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Attributes of Danaus gilippus:

Family: Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)

Subfamily: Milkweed Butterflies (Danainae)

Identification: Upperside is chestnut brown; black borders of forewings have 2 rows of white spots; white spots are scattered at the forewing apex. Underside of hindwing has black veins; black borders of both wings have 2 rows of white spots. Upperside of male hindwing has a black scale patch. Very similar to the Soldier (Danaus eresimus), but is more brown and has less defined wing veins on the upperside. Underside hindwing lacks band of pale spots present in the Soldier. Queens in the southwest (and sometimes in the southeast) have pale veins on the upperside of the hindwings, which are lacking in the Soldier.

Life history: To find females, males patrol all day. Females lay eggs singly on leaves, stems, and flower buds; which the caterpillars eat. Adults roost communally.

Flight: All year in Florida and South Texas, July-August in the north.

Wing span: 2 5/8 – 3 7/8 inches (6.7 – 9.8 cm).

Caterpillar hosts: Milkweeds and milkweed vines. Some of the milkweeds contain cardiac glycosides which are stored in the bodies of both the caterpillar and adult. These poisons are distasteful and emetic to birds and other vertebrate predators. After tasting a Queen, a predator might associate the bright warning colors of the adult or caterpillar with an unpleasant meal, and avoid Queens in the future.

Adult food: Nectar from flowers including milkweeds, fogfruit, and shepherd’s needle.

Habitat: Open, sunny areas including fields, deserts, roadsides, pastures, dunes, washes, and waterways.

Range: Resident in extreme southern United States south through tropical lowlands of the West Indies and Central America to Argentina. Regular stray and sometime colonist in the plains; rarely along Atlantic coastal plain to Massachusetts and the Great Plains. Comments: The Florida Viceroy (Limenitis archippus floridensis) is edible, but mimics the Queen in order to gain some protection from predators.

Conservation: Not usually required.

NatureServe Global Status: G5 – Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.


  • Bonnie T.  Barry
    Bonnie T. Barryover 6 years ago

    What a breathtaking photo, Lisa! The colors are vibrant and rich; the focus is perfect; the composition is beautifully artistic. Couldn’t ask for better!

  • Bonnie T.  Barry
    Bonnie T. Barryover 6 years ago

    P.S. How could I forget the information that is provided about the butterfly? Thorough, covers all bases!

  • courier
    courierover 6 years ago

    Gorgeous color, Lisa.

  • eXposure
    eXposureover 6 years ago

    such wonderful colour and detail, and information!

  • Eyeleen
    Eyeleenover 6 years ago

    Beautiful colors and great DOF…great info too!

  • Bobby McLeod
    Bobby McLeodover 6 years ago

    gorgeous rich colors, showing off fine detail. outstanding image!

  • Catherine Hamilton-Veal  ©
    Catherine Hami...over 6 years ago

    fabulous shot Lisa beautiful colours great narrative.x

  • Squealia
    Squealiaover 6 years ago

    Lovely image

  • Gary L   Suddath
    Gary L Suddathover 6 years ago

    wow what a great display of colors,excellent shot and info

  • lorilee
    lorileeover 5 years ago


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