Queen Butterfly Danaus gilippus
Queen Butterflies visit my yard, but I only see them once in a while. My passion vine and sulphur butterflies are nearly always in sight, which I really like too, but the habits of the Queen Butterflies make seeing one more special because I don't see them as often.
The Life Cycle of the Queen Butterfly:

Queen Butterflies lay their eggs on Milkweed, so we call Milkweed their Host Plant.

The eggs hatch into little caterpillars that look a lot like Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars, but they have three pairs of... what IS the correct term for those antenna looking protrusions? Email me if you know, and I'll add looking that up to my list of things to do. Back to where we were though, the Queen caterpillar has three pairs, and the Monarch caterpillar has only two. (It's missing the middle pair). You might also find a Soldier Caterpillar on Milkweed. For descriptions of those, keep reading below.

This first Queen Caterpillar is the rare dark form.

See the color variation in the caterpillars? The top one is more dark, and more rare, but all three photos are Queen Butterfly Caterpillars.
Queen Butterfly
Queen Butterfly Caterpillar rare form
Queen Butterfly Caterpillar
Queen Butterfly Caterpillar
Queen Butterfly Chrysalis
Queen Butterfly Chrysalis
After the caterpillars have eaten enough Milkweed, shed their skin several times, and grown up enough, they hang upside-down and turn into a chrysalis.
If all goes well, they emerge from their chrysalis as a beautiful Queen Butterfly.
Queen Butterfly
Queen Butterfly
Queen Butterfly
Queen Butterfly
Queen Butterfly "Birds and the Bees" Page
John Calhoun, the Florida butterfly coordinator for Butterflies and Moths of North America, my favorite butterfly page, wrote a paper on Soldier and Queen butterflies that you can access from the bibliography of Mike Quinn's Queen page.

My pages are a hobby, so I'll post my pictures and the stuff I've observed personally, and try to hyperlink to the experts for those of you who want more information about these beautiful butterflies.

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