Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mystery Caterpillars

Queen Butterfly Larva
It is not uncommon to get a picture of a caterpillar with questions about whether it is harmful and what it will become "when it grows up".  Every once in a while it leads to an exciting find.   Lisa Bakerink discovered this Queen butterfly larva in a field a half mile from her home butterfly garden.  The field has milkweed which attracted this jewel.  The first instar looked similar to a Monarch larva but its second instar revealed it wasn't going to be common.

The Queen butterfly (Danaus gilippus) is a rare visitor to the Ozarks.  According to one source it has only been reported in Missouri three times before.  It normally lives in the extreme southern United States although it may stray and sometime breed in the plains of southern Kansas.

Queen Butterfly- Wikipedia
It has coloration similar to a Monarch with the addition of white dots the upper and lower side of its wings.  It's host plant is the toxic milkweed just like its family member the Monarch (Danaus plexippus).

The Queen butterfly larva has pupated now and will be released in the Butterfly House eventually.  Chris Barnhart reported it to BAMONA.  Their website tracks butterflies and moths of North America: (  There are range maps for each species as well.

Queen chrysalis
The message here is that careful observation and curiosity can be rewarded with a rare find.  Keep looking!

The caterpillar formed this chrysalis a few days later.

* A photographic Field Guide to the Butterflies in the Kansas City Region, Betsy Betros.


  1. Amazing information ,nature always provide ways of showing its perfection.