y2j201 - You are right - it is a viceroy (Limenitis archippus).
Liz - It looks like a monarch because it mimics Danaus species.
The various Danaus species include D. plexippus (monarch), D. gilippus (queen), and D. eresimus (soldier).
Superficially, there are similarities between all these species, but there are sufficient differences in pattern that you can tell them apart.
The viceroy is at the top of this photo -
Here's a good site for North American butterflies, including distribution maps; this page has links to the three Danaus species I just mentioned -
Curiously they say (and I have no reason to doubt them) that "Monarchs are rare in Florida, Georgia, and the Southwest" and "Viceroys are brown instead of orange and mimic the Queen (Danaus gilippus)". Superficially, however, the viceroy is closest in pattern to the monarch. And outside Florida and Georgia, there is a lot of overlap in the ranges of viceroy and monarch. Maybe you have your own opinion. Facts can be subject to individuals' inference and interpretation!
I'm just glad that it is not necessary to understand butterflies in order to appreciate their beauty and be fascinated by them
Many thanks, Mike, for pointing out the difference/similarities!?
It seems the Viceroy has a horizontal line at the base of the wing which the Monarch doesn't. Am I right in thinking this is the easiest way to tell them apart?
Many thanks for both your answers. The way I was telling them apart was the number and configuration of white spots coming down perpendicular from the top of the forewing. But that black bar also looks like a identifying feature.
Telling them apart...
Of course it depends which part(s) might be on view. But I think the easiest way would be:
- forewing tip: row of four brown spots = viceroy; less than four brown spots = monarch
- hindwing: inner black band = viceroy; no inner black band = monarch
By the way, mimicry can be fascinating; here's another example:
Eresia eunice and Eueides isabella dissoluta