Queen

Danaus gilippus

The Queen Butterfly is a North and South American butterfly in the family Nymphalidae with a wingspan of 70–88 mm . It is orange or brown with black wing borders and small white forewing spots on its dorsal wing surface, and reddish ventral wing surface fairly similar to the dorsal surface. The ventral hindwings have black veins and small white spots in a black border. The male has a black androconial scent patch on its dorsal hindwings. It is found throughout the tropics and into the temperate regions of the Americas, Asia and Africa. It can be found in a variety of locations: depending on its habitat location, the butterfly can be found in meadows, fields, marshes, deserts, and at the edges of forests.

This species is possibly a close relative to the similarly colored Soldier Butterfly ; in any case, it is not close to the Plain Tiger as was long believed. There are seven subspecies.

Females lay one egg at a time on larval host plants. Larvae use these plants as a food source, whereas adult butterflies feed mainly on nectar from flowers. Unpalatability to avian predators is a feature of the butterfly; however, its level is highly variable. Unpalatability is correlated with the level of cardenolides obtained via the larval diet, but other compounds like alkaloids also play a part in promoting distastefulness.

Males patrol to search for females, who may mate up to 15 times a day. Male organs called hair-pencils play an important role in courtship, with males with lower hair-pencil levels being selected against. These hair-pencils may be involved in releasing pheromones during courtship that could attract female mates.
Queen Butterfly - Danaus gilippus Seen at Butterflies in Bloom at Roger Williams Park Danaus gilippus,Geotagged,Queen,Spring,United States,butterfly

Appearance

Females lay small white eggs one at a time on larval host plants, usually members of the milkweed subfamily Asclepiadoideae. The egg hatches into a black caterpillar with transverse white stripes and yellow spots, and three pairs of long, black filaments. The caterpillar feeds on the host plant and sequesters chemicals that make it distasteful to some predators. It then goes through six instars, after which the larva finds a suitable spot to pupate. The adult emerges 7 to 10 days afterwards. The Queen Butterfly has multiple generations a year.
Queen A Queen (Danaus gilippus) butterfly on a desert flower at Agua Fria National Monument, Arizona, United States. Agua Fria National Monument,Arizona,Danaus gilippus,Geotagged,Queen,Spring,United States,butterfly

Distribution

The Queen belongs to a family that is common to both New and Old Worlds, specifically found throughout the tropics and into the temperate regions of the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Stray specimens are found in Europe.
The Queen is chiefly a tropical species. In the US, it is usually confined to the southern portion of the country. It can be found regularly in peninsular Florida and southern Georgia, as well as in the southern portions of Texas, California, and other states bordering on Mexico. Occasionally, the subspecies of the Queen can be found somewhat north, in Kansas, Colorado, and Utah. Periodically, a stray may be found in the Midwest, such as in Missouri. The ''berenice'' subspecies is found largely in the Southeast and the ''strigosus'' in the Southwest. The Queen is also found in Cuba.

It is more common in southern Central America, with numbers beginning to rise in Mexico. The Queen can be found as far south as Argentina.
Although the Queen does not undertake dramatic migrations like the Monarch, most undertake short-distance travel at tropical latitudes in areas that have a distinct dry season. During those periods, the Queen will fly from lowlands to high elevations.

Throughout its distribution, the Queen can be found on open land, in meadows, fields, and marshes. It displays a more xeric preference in Hispaniola and will fly to the edge of, but seldom penetrate, hammocks and forests. In the southern US, the Queen prefers open woodland, fields, and desert. Most likely they are found wherever milkweeds grow.
Little_Boy  Danaus gilippus,Queen

Behavior

Females lay small white eggs one at a time on larval host plants, usually members of the milkweed subfamily Asclepiadoideae. The egg hatches into a black caterpillar with transverse white stripes and yellow spots, and three pairs of long, black filaments. The caterpillar feeds on the host plant and sequesters chemicals that make it distasteful to some predators. It then goes through six instars, after which the larva finds a suitable spot to pupate. The adult emerges 7 to 10 days afterwards. The Queen Butterfly has multiple generations a year.
Common Monarch Butterfly Monarchs migration between Canada and Mexico makes Arizona a hot bed of activity. Danaus gilippus,Danaus plexippus,Monarch,Queen

Habitat

The Queen belongs to a family that is common to both New and Old Worlds, specifically found throughout the tropics and into the temperate regions of the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Stray specimens are found in Europe.
The Queen is chiefly a tropical species. In the US, it is usually confined to the southern portion of the country. It can be found regularly in peninsular Florida and southern Georgia, as well as in the southern portions of Texas, California, and other states bordering on Mexico. Occasionally, the subspecies of the Queen can be found somewhat north, in Kansas, Colorado, and Utah. Periodically, a stray may be found in the Midwest, such as in Missouri. The ''berenice'' subspecies is found largely in the Southeast and the ''strigosus'' in the Southwest. The Queen is also found in Cuba.

It is more common in southern Central America, with numbers beginning to rise in Mexico. The Queen can be found as far south as Argentina.
Although the Queen does not undertake dramatic migrations like the Monarch, most undertake short-distance travel at tropical latitudes in areas that have a distinct dry season. During those periods, the Queen will fly from lowlands to high elevations.

Throughout its distribution, the Queen can be found on open land, in meadows, fields, and marshes. It displays a more xeric preference in Hispaniola and will fly to the edge of, but seldom penetrate, hammocks and forests. In the southern US, the Queen prefers open woodland, fields, and desert. Most likely they are found wherever milkweeds grow.
Balanced This image simply draws me in. I hope you like it. Danaus gilippus,Danaus plexippus,Geotagged,Monarch,Queen,United States

Reproduction

The Queen larvae feed on Apocynaceae . It can survive on a number of hosts. Common plants include Butterflyweed and bloodflower . In the West Indies, blunt-leaved milkweed and honey vine is favored. The caterpillar has also been observed on ''Asclepias nivea'', ''Calotropis procea'', and ''Apocynaceae nerium''. Other reported host genera include the ''Apocynum'', ''Gonolobus'', ''Sarcostemma'', and ''Stapelia''.
The Queen in the Desert No, it is not Cleopatra - just a wonderful butterfly that is easily mistaken for the very similar named, Monarch. They seem to love the royalty names for new World butterflies. Arizona,Danaus gilippus,Geotagged,Queen,Summer,United States

Food

The Queen larvae feed on Apocynaceae . It can survive on a number of hosts. Common plants include Butterflyweed and bloodflower . In the West Indies, blunt-leaved milkweed and honey vine is favored. The caterpillar has also been observed on ''Asclepias nivea'', ''Calotropis procea'', and ''Apocynaceae nerium''. Other reported host genera include the ''Apocynum'', ''Gonolobus'', ''Sarcostemma'', and ''Stapelia''.As an adult, its feeding habits are less specific. The butterfly feeds predominantly on nectar from flowers and dead foliage, but can also feed on rotting fruit, sweat, and dry or wet dung, among other substances.

Even as an adult, the Queen is drawn to milkweeds . However, the butterfly is also attracted to the ''Nerium'', ''Funastrum'', ''Vincetoxicum'', ''Philabertia'', ''Stapelia''.

In addition to the above food sources, males are attracted to ''Heliotropium'', ''Eupatorium'', ''Senecio'', and ''Crotalaria'', plants known to contain the alkaloid lycopsamine. The alkaloid and other precursor compounds from these plants are used to create pheromones used to attract mates. Pheromone precursors are predominantly obtained from Boraginaceae, Asteraceae, and Fabaceae.
Queen Butterfly Brookside Gardens, Silver Springs, MD Butterfly,Danaus gilippus,Queen

Defense

The Queen is one of many insects that derives chemical defenses against its predators from its food plant. Most of the toxic cardenolides that make queens so unpalatable to its predators are sequestered from larval host plants.For quite some time, the Queen had been regarded as highly unpalatable to its vertebrate predators. This is due to the fact that the Queen, like its cousin the Monarch, feeds largely on Asclepiads. As the Queen and the Monarch are closely related, it was assumed that the Queen also possesses the ability to effectively sequester and store cardenolides present in milkweeds. As such, the Queen and the Florida Viceroy was long regarded a classic model-mimic example of Batesian mimicry, similar to the relationship exhibited by the Monarch and the Viceroy.

However, the unexpected failure of birds to reject successive Queens in an experimental setting called into question the legitimacy of this relationship. In fact, experimental evidence suggested that Florida Viceroys could be significantly more unpalatable than representative Queens. Because experimental evidence showed sampled queens were significantly less distasteful than viceroy, it was purported that Florida Viceroys and Queens were Müllerian co-mimics. Furthermore, evidence from this study led to the hypothesis that the Queen actually enjoys an asymmetric mimicry relationship, gaining an advantage from flying in the company of the relatively more unpalatable Viceroy.Queen unpalatability does not directly mirror either food plant or butterfly cardenolide content. Evidence suggests that the interaction of cardenolides and noncardenolides are utilized for chemical defenses in milkweed butterflies.

Wild queens that fed upon ''S. clausum'' as larvae but had access to adult-obtained compounds, such as the pyrrolizidine alkaloids used for pheromone production, were observed to be significantly less palatable to avian predators than butterflies without chemical defenses. As such, these alkaloids, which are known to deter spider predators, may make a substantial contribution to Queen distastefulness.

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderLepidoptera
FamilyNymphalidae
GenusDanaus
SpeciesD. gilippus