Sunday, August 16, 2009

Monarch vs Vicroy

Even though most butterflies only live in their adult state for a matter of weeks or sometimes months many butterflies have defense mechanisms which help them to live as long as they possibly can.For most monarch butterflies life as an adult is just a few weeks in the summer, just time enough to mate, lay eggs, and pollinate some flowers along the way. Those that hatch in the late summer get to live an extended life of sorts. These are the ones that fly down to southern California or Mexico for the winter. To help them survive monarchs ingest milkweed while in their larval state. Milkweed is toxic to many predators, mostly insects and birds, and so most of them avoid monarchs.
The viceroy is a similar looking butterfly, but looks are where the similarity ends. Viceroy caterpillars do not feed on milkweed, they prefer willow leaves and other non-toxic plants and trees, and so they are not toxic. Fortunately for them, most predators have difficulty distinguishing between the two different types of butterflies and so this acts as a defense mechanism for the viceroy.

7 comments:

awarewriter said...

I love your butterfly shots. They always fly away for me. But I think I got some good ones on Friday. Here's hoping.

John

Jama said...

This is so gorgeous! Too bad about their short lives, despite going through the metamorphosis cycle.

Tranquility said...

Oh wow - those really are very similar! I don't think I'd be able to tell them apart if I happened upon one. I've always assumed that all butterflies that look like that are monarchs!

Regina said...

Love butterflies.
Beautiful shots as always.

Sarah said...

Wow such amazing shots!! I love the information on them too!! Sarah

glutenfree4goofs said...

Facinating how they survive as impersonators! :)

mitt vattenhål said...

Super photos of these goodlooking butterflies, they are almost to good to be true and this for only a few weeks.......