This Morning Outside
by Diane Porter
September 17, 2010
This is a Viceroy butterfly. Viceroy butterflies are yummy, I'm told, though I've never tried one. Birds would love to eat them.
But they don't. Because Viceroys look very much like Monarch butterflies. And Monarchs are not yummy. They will make a bird very, very sick.
So one taste of a Monarch, and a bird will forever leave Monarchs and their look-alikes strictly alone.
Which is why the Viceroy has gone to the trouble of looking like the Monarch. You can tell that the butterfly above is a Viceroy, not a Monarch, because it has that thin black band crossing the orange in the hind wings.
The butterfly at right is a Monarch. Note that it does not have a black line cutting through the middle of the orange part. It's also somewhat larger than the Viceroy.
But the Viceroy is close enough in appearance to fool the birds. Fools a lot of people, too!
Nature sometimes takes a pragmatic attitude toward telling the truth.