Monday, August 27, 2012
Royalty in the Garden
Everyone knows and loves the Monarch butterflies, and when meeting their needs with planting milkweed and nectar plants they aren't a rare sight in the garden. But the Queen (and the Viceroy) are not so often seen, so when they visit Myrtle Glen, it sure is a royal event!
A few weeks ago I noticed two Queen caterpillars on the yellow milkweed. Queen's caterpillars are similar to Monarch caterpillars but they have three pairs of filaments, these feeler-like extensions are sensitive to touch and sonic vibrations.
I kept a close eye on my precious caterpillars, sadly the small one was gone one morning but by that afternoon the large caterpillar had changed into a beautiful, emerald-green chrysalis with golden accents sparkling in the sun... . And to my horror it had a DENT!
But 7 anxious days of waiting and here she is, a perfect female Queen Butterfly (Danuas gilippus) :-)
The Monarch and Queen look very similar, the picture below shows the Monarch top row and the Queen bottom row.
The underside of the wings are pale orange on the Monarch and a deep orange on the Queen
The top of the wings have prominent black veins on the Monarch and no black veins on the Queen
And if I hadn't seen the caterpillar I would have mistaken the chrysalis for a Monarch chrysalis.
Queen on the left and Monarch on the right:
Viceroy butterflies do not use milkweed as their host plants, they lay their eggs on shrubs and trees in the willow family. I don't have any Willows in my garden, but this royal visitor stops by occasionally to sip nectar from the many flowers planted for butterflies.
Viceroys sure look similar to Monarch and Queen