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What does it look like? The Queen is a large chocolate brown butterfly. The wings are edged with black and there are a few white spots on the wings, but the predominant impression is chocolate. Its close relative, the Monarch, has black wing veins above and is generally a lighter color of orange, and larger. Male Queens have a black spot on the hind wing. The caterpillar is brightly banded with rows of lime-green, black and yellow. It looks just like a Monarch caterpillar, but has three pairs of antenna-like tubercles instead of two. The chrysalis looks like a one inch high lime-green jack-o-lantern with a trim of golden dots. The chrysalis hangs by a cremaster from its host plant.
What does it eat? The adult butterfly visits a wide variety of flowers to sip nectar. Nectar is all that an adult Queen needs. Nectar is just sugar water. So an adult butterfly lives off the energy of the sugar and the nutrition that it stored in its body as a caterpillar. Queens frequent Milkweed family flowers and the abundant flowers on shrubby members of the sunflower family, such as rubber rabbit brush and broom baccharis. Queens have a particular fondness for mist flower, Eupatorium. Plant some in your garden and Queens will appear.
Is it threatened or endangered? Queens are common. The number of adults will increase during the summer and decline during the winter. Some species of butterflies are endangered with extinction. Of the twenty-two species of butterflies on the federal endangered species list, fifteen are from California. The causes of their endangerment are typically habitat degradation or habitat loss due to human activities.
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