Quiz: Will These Monarch Look-Alikes Fool You?

Each spring I search desperately in butterfly gardens, hoping to catch a glimpse of a monarch butterfly. I’ll admit, there are a few butterfly species that trick me. The viceroy and queen butterflies are easy to confuse with monarchs. This guide and quiz will hopefully help you (and me) improve identification skills so that these look-alikes don’t fool us anymore. First, learn how to distinguish monarchs from their look-alikes, then put your skills to the test!

Butterfly Identification Chart

Monarchs and Look-Alikes Identification Guide. Photos donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrants, unless otherwise noted. Viceroy Flickr image by Ken Slade.

Viceroy vs Monarch

The viceroy has good reason for mimicking monarchs, their survival depends upon confusing predators. That makes it extra tricky for us. The viceroy can be identified by the black line across its hindwings, which monarch butterflies do not have. The viceroy is also a bit smaller than the monarch. As you’ll see in the quiz, the caterpillars of monarchs and viceroys are significantly different in appearance.

Queen vs Monarch

The queen butterfly has white spots on its hindwings, distinguishing it from the monarch. It is also a darker color orange than monarchs. When the wings of a queen butterfly are open, it’s a bit easier to tell the two species apart. During the caterpillar phase, however, the monarch and queen are very similar. The queen caterpillar has three sets of protuberances, while the monarch caterpillar has only two sets.

Quiz: Test Your Skills

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