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How to Tell the Difference Between Monarch and Queen Butterfly Caterpillars, Chrysalis, and Adults.

Click on any photo to enlarge and see detail or added words and explanations.

Click on the middle photo on the right to see arrows
indicating the missing gold dots on a Queen chrysalis.
Queen butterfly caterpillar
Monarch butterfly caterpillar
Queen Caterpillar
Monarch Caterpillar
Close view of Monarch and Queen pupae
A Monarch and a Queen chrysalis side by side.
The Queen is freshly pupated, causing it to be a darker green shade compared to the older Monarch chrysalis.
Monarch, left. Queen, right.
Click to enlarge and see the arrows
indicating the missing gold dots.
Male Queen butterfly
Male Monarch butterfly
Male Queen Butterfly
Danaus gilippus
Male Monarch Butterfly
Danaus plexippus
Viceroy butterfly
A Viceroy butterfly.
a Viceroy resembles Monarch and Queen butterflies.

A Queen butterfly is simply a species of butterfly. Often when we hear the word 'queen' in relation to an insect, we think of queen bees or queen ants. This isn't the meaning of 'queen' in the butterfly world.

Both Queen and Monarch caterpillars (larvae) eat milkweed.
They can be raised on the same plant at the same time without problem.
A Monarch chrysalis (pupa) has more gold dots than a Queen chrysalis. At the side base of the chrysalis, gold dots (two, although one is often hard to see) are visible between two larger dots. Queen chrysalis does not have these two dots.
After exposure to many Monarch and Queen pupae, a slight difference in the curve at the bottom of the chrysalis becomes apparent.

In most cases, a Monarch chrysalis will be larger than a Queen chrysalis. If a Monarch caterpillar eats less than normal and a Queen caterpillar has food and to spare all until it becomes a chrysalis, a Queen chrysalis can be larger than the Monarch chrysalis.

Several factors could cause a caterpillar to eat less than normal. Spring brings small milkweed plants. A caterpillar may strip a plant of leaves and be unable to find enough plants to eat as much as it would if it were later in the spring. If the caterpillar is infected with the parasite OE, it may eat less yet still pupate and emerge without trouble. A page showing the size difference between two pupae of the same species, due to the amount of food they have eaten, is located on this page.

Viceroy butterflies resemble Queen butterflies in the south and Monarch butterflies in the north. Northern Viceroy butterflies are a lighter shade than southern Viceroy butterflies.