Monarchs may be the kings of the butterfly world, but they are not the only butterflies to have striking orange and black wings. There are other butterflies out there that have the same colors, and some of them look like they could be the monarchs’ twins. So, without further ado, let’s talk about some of these butterflies that look like monarchs.
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Butterflies That Look Like Monarchs
1. Viceroy Butterflies
The viceroy is mistaken for a monarch perhaps more than any other type of butterfly in the world. Not only do they both have strong, ruler-type names, but they look almost exactly alike.
Both monarchs and viceroys are the same shade of orange, and both have black veins that are very similar in pattern. Both have black bodies, and both have black borders with white spots along the edges of their wings.
There are just two main differences between monarchs and viceroys. The first is that viceroys are slightly smaller than monarchs, though this size difference is negligible and easy to miss when you see them flitting around your flower garden.
The second, more noticeable difference still requires you to get a good look at the butterfly at rest. Viceroys have what looks like an extra set of veins on their lower wings–a pair of bands which run perpendicular to the rest of the veins.
Male monarchs will have black spots in place of these bands; female monarchs have thicker veins but lack the black spots. Regardless, if you see a butterfly with curving, horizontal bands going across the veins on their lower wings, you can know that it’s a viceroy instead of a monarch.
Check out this video for a great visual comparison of monarchs and viceroys:
2. Soldier Butterflies
Soldier butterflies also share a striking resemblance with monarchs, though they are a bit easier to tell apart than viceroys are.
Like monarchs, soldier butterflies are orange in color. That said, the orange of the soldier butterfly is more dark, almost burnt in appearance, whereas monarchs are a more bright shade of orange.
Both monarchs and soldier butterflies have black-bordered wings and white spots. However, they have less black and more noticeable white spots around the tips of their upper wings than monarchs do.
Both types of butterflies have dark veins running in similar patterns through their wings. But the veins of soldier butterflies are not as dark or noticeable as those of monarchs.
Finally, monarchs have black bodies, whereas soldier butterflies have dark orange and black bodies.
Though these butterflies do look similar, and would be easy to confuse if you saw them flying by, closer examination would reveal quite a few differences between them.
3. Queen Butterflies
Queen butterflies look more similar to soldier butterflies than monarchs; but, because monarchs look so similar to soldiers, we must also look at the similarities they share with queens.
The regalness of their names may be one reason they are confused, but beyond that, both monarchs and queens have orange wings and are similar in size. As with soldier butterflies, though, the wings of queen butterflies are more of a burnt orange color.
Both butterflies have black borders around their wings and white spots within these borders. Queen butterflies have additional white spots on their upper wings which monarchs do not have.
Both queen butterflies and male monarchs have a black spot on each lower wing, which can add to their similarity of appearance. They also both have veins running through their wings, but those of the queen butterfly are not nearly as dark or noticeable as those of the monarch.
Queen butterflies, like soldiers, have black and orange bodies, while monarchs’ bodies are solid black.
Again, it would be easy to confuse these two butterflies if you didn’t get a good look at them, but if you could compare them side by side, you would notice plenty of differences.
4. Fritillary Butterflies
There are many species of fritillary butterfly found throughout the world, and many of them share a resemblance with monarchs. This is especially true of gulf and variegated fritillaries.
Both types of fritillary are orange in color with patterned wings. Their flight patterns are also similar to monarchs.
That said, fritillaries are a little smaller than monarchs, and the darker parts of their wings are more brown than black. The patterns are more mottled and spotted, whereas monarchs have lined wings.
What’s more, fritillaries don’t have the distinctive black borders around their wings as monarchs do. Their bodies are the same basic color as their wings, which is a more brownish orange or burnt orange than monarchs have.
So, despite the similarity of their coloring, you would find that it’s easy to tell apart monarchs and fritillaries if you were able to get a decent look at them.
5. Tortoiseshell Butterflies
Like fritillaries, there are different types of tortoiseshell butterflies, most of which share some similarities with monarchs. The California tortoiseshell is perhaps the most obvious lookalike.
These butterflies have wings that fade from burnt orange near the middle to a more bright orange near the borders. They also have definitive black borders around the edges of their wings.
They also have black and white markings, particularly on their upper wings, that may cause some to mistake them for monarchs at first glance.
That said, they have many differences from monarchs.
For starters, they are noticeably smaller. Most monarchs have a wingspan around four inches wide, while even the largest tortoiseshells rarely have wingspans of more than 2 ½ inches.
What’s more, their wings are not noticeably veined, and their wing patterns are much different than those of monarchs. Their wings are more mottled and splotchy in appearance, as opposed to the lined patterns that monarchs are known for.
Finally, the edges of their wings are less rounded than the wings of monarchs. With all of these differences, you should have no trouble telling monarchs and tortoiseshells apart from each other.
6. Crescent Butterflies
There are many species of crescent butterflies as well, most of which are mottled orange and brown to black in appearance.
Many crescent butterflies are quite a bit smaller than monarchs; thus, even a quick glance of a passing crescent would show that it is probably not a monarch due to the size difference.
That said, one member of this butterfly family, the Phaon crescent, has a wingspan of up to 3 inches. Though this is still smaller than the average monarch, the size difference is less noticeable.
The Phaon crescent also has thick black borders around the wings, and some of the spots and lines on the wings make it look similar to a monarch. They also have black bodies, like monarchs do.
That said, a closer look at the wings will show that the patterning is still too mottled for it to be a monarch. Remember, monarchs have lined wings.
7. Checkerspot Butterflies
There are numerous varieties of checkerspot butterflies, and most of them have black and orange patterns on their wings.
Checkerspots have similar colors as monarchs, but the patterns of these colors are often much different. Most checkerspots have a more spotted or mottled appearance.
What’s more, checkerspot butterflies are much smaller than monarchs–typically with a wingspan of under 2 ½ inches. This size difference alone should be enough to help you tell them apart, even at a glance.
As you can see, there are several types of butterflies that have similar colors, sizes, and wing patterns as monarchs. Some of these butterflies include the viceroy, the queen, the soldier, and the fritillary.