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Viceroy - Limenitis archippus

Viceroy - Limenitis archippus
Norris City, White County, Illinois, USA
October 8, 2006
Size: Approx. 3.25 in. wingspan
I first thought this was a Viceroy until I got to looking at it closer. But it doesn't have the black line across the hindwing, though. To me, it doesn't quite look like a Monarch, either. It doesn't have the 2 rows of white dots along the wings. It surely must be one or the other, but which one? It's not a great picture, but at least it shows the wings fully open.

Moved from Viceroy.

So, is this some kind of interbreed or a valid species offshot that would require it's own special name amended onto the end of it's regular Latin name? How would a person know if they had found a truly new and unique insect? Other than a couple of these I've seen in my own area here, I haven't seen or heard of any others that look like this. If I should see one of these again, should I think about capturing it for someone to study? If so, I would need to know the best methods of doing so without damaging the specimen and an organization or person who has an interest.

March 11th, 2008 Update
I just saw in my new Butterfly guide, Field Guide To Butterflies Of Illinois, that in cases of interbreeding between Viceroys and Red-Spotted Purples, the resultant specimens greatly resemble this look. Perhaps that accounts for the missing black post-median line, which is present in your average Viceroy.

just a note
Hey the flight is an easy way to tell Monarch and Viceroy apart. First if your around willows this is helpful on seeing Viceroys but not always a sure thing. The Viceroy has rapid wing beats and flies erractly. The Monarch floats in the air with its wings open in a Vee shape and leans to the left or right to navigate, they flap the wings much less than Viceroys especially if it is windy. Check out my Monarch journey from last year when I monitored them from the Eastern Shore of Virginia for 7 weeks last year at

Huge Willow Tree
There was a huge willow tree about 40 feet from the corner of my property. The Monarchs that I saw this year did float over my yard a lot, whereas the few Viceroys I saw fluttered more actively. And it may have been smaller than I remember. I only got two quick pictures of it and no more, so it must not have stuck around very long.

Good stuff, Randy
I've noticed I can identify a lot of butterflies at a distance by the way they fly, but have never put it into words. Consider posting the above observations on the Info page for both species, as others may find them quite valuable.

I think you can safely label this a Viceroy
based on wing venation alone, although the spot pattern in the forewing helps too. This should definitely be in the guide, maybe with a special label, so people know that you can find Viceroys without the postmedian black band.

For the record, I did not know you could find Viceroys without the postmedian black band.


Monarch, female? Perhaps Viceroy after all?
is what I get from this at first sight. It lacks the post-median black line, perpendicular to the black veins, to be a Viceroy. Yet, the venation seems more like that of a Viceroy, certainly that of the forewing (incl. pattern). Size of Viceroy, I think is usually less than 3.25 inch; allowing for estimation error it could be a Viceroy after all, albeit one lacking the post-median black line.

I thought . .
I thought a Viceroy has 1 row of white spots around edges of wings as opposed to 2 rows for Monarchs . .
True / False ??

I see two rows
in both Monarch and Viceroy, though the latter's marginal row of white spots seems either smaller, or wears off faster.
Here's an image of a Viceroy from Ohio whose post-median black line is rather weak. So one without, like the present one, doesn't seem so far fetched.

When I was a kid in Ohio, we usually told them apart by size, with the Viceroy being much smaller. Maybe the lack of easily distinguised markings was why we identified them that way.

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