The Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus) is a North and South American butterfly in the family Nymphalidae (brush-footed) with a wingspan of 2.753.25″ (7088mm). 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.
This species is possibly a close relative to the similarly-colored Soldier Butterfly (or “Tropic Queen”; Danaus eresimus); in any case, it is not close to the Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus) as was long believed. There are about 10 recognized subspecies (Smith et al. 2005). As with other North American Danaus species, it is involved in Mllerian mimicry with the Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) where the two co-occur. Queen Butterfly Life cycle
Females lay small white eggs singly on plants in the milkweed subfamily (Asclepiadoideae), including Mexican Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, Desert Milkweed, and Sandhill Milkweed. 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 milkweed 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. D. gilippus has multiple generations a year.
Along with Monarchs, Queen butterflies are susceptible to infection by Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, a protozoan parasite.
: Host Plants: Milkweed (Mexican Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, Desert Milkweed, and Sandhill Milkweed).
Region 8: Florida.