San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Field Guide
Queen, photo by Bob Parks

Danaus gilippus

Family: DANAIIDAE (Milkweed Butterflies)


The Queen has a wing span of 2 3/4 - 31/2 inches. Although the coloration of the Queen resembles the pattern of black, orange and white seen in the Monarch, the Queen can be distinguished by the presence of white spots in the forewing, visible both from below and above. It also is a darker mahogany brown-orange than the Monarch. Caterpillars are brownish-white with brown and yellow markings.

Range and Habitat

Habitats include streambeds, roadsides, canyons, and low altitude deserts. Regardless of habitat, Queens require nectar sources and milkweeds for food. Ranges throughout southern U.S. and north to central California, Nevada, Utah and Nebraska.

Natural History

The egg is a rounded cone, yellow to pale cream in color depending on age. The Queen is the Monarch's desert cousin.

Related or Similar Species

Monarch, Western Viceroy, Painted Lady

Text by Margi Dykens and Christian Manion.
Photos by Bob Parks.

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