Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Viceroy Cats

Viceroy is one of our better known Ohio butterflies. These denizens of wetlands, their host plant is the willow, are often confused with the similar looking Monarch. Their coloring is the same- providing some safety in mimicry of the toxic Monarch butterfly. Viceroy's are a bit smaller, faster in flight and have the distinctive postmedial line in the hindwing.

And what could be cuter than a kitten? This Viceroy caterpillar is so small-think sunflower seed size here- it is hardly more than a hatchling! Thanks to Kim Kaufman for sharing these amazingly tiny caterpillars with folks visiting the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. Their gift shop carries a huge assortment of desirable insect and natural history books- along with the expected birding accouterments.
Another of Kim's kitties (Viceroy caterpillars) a bit further along in the transformation to butterfly. That bird-dropping camouflage make them devilish hard to find in the wild, and less tasty looking to predators.

This is what the final larval-stage product will look like, four or five instars later.
Check out those horns! This particular jumbo sized (about 1.5 inches) caterpillar was found in Ashland University's wetlands and is found immortalized in the Butterflies and Skippers of Ohio - a handy field guide distributed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Call: 1-800-WILDLIFE for your free copy.


  1. I've no more seen one of these beauties then you have a Knotgrass - perhaps because of the fact that we are on opposite sides of the Atlantic!

  2. Ah, so we must keep each other informed!

    It will be fun learning from you- Cheryl