Newport Beach, Orange County, CA. 09/06/87. © Peter J. Bryant.
Characteristics: Mimics the Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus). Unlike in D. gilippus, the wing veins on the Viceroy are edged with black and the white markings on the dorsal wing surfaces are arranged in definite rows.
Habitats, Behavior: This pretty species is usually hard to catch as it frequents the upper reaches of cottonwoods and other streamside trees. The Viceroy ranges through most of the United States; the subspecies obsoleta occurs primarily along water courses in Arizona.
Distribution: Two records from Santa Ana Canyon.
Flight Period: Several broods, flying from April to October (Emmel and Emmel, 1973).
Larval Foodplants: Populus sp. (e.g. cottonwood), and Salix spp.
Other Remarks: Emmel and Emmel (1973) list the distribution in California as the Colorado River and Imperial Valley, although the species has apparently not been found at these locations in recent years. The two specimens in the Denton collection (now at U. C. Irvine) are labelled only "Santa Ana Canyon", and Mr. Denton assures me these are Orange County specimens. However, as the specimens were captured by high school students for a required collection, the data may be subject to question. Mr. Denton told me that an additional specimen was captured in Corona del Mar. One biology teacher at Newport Harbor High School mentioned seeing obsoleta in student collections which are labelled as Orange County specimens. Mr. John Johnson also states that the species has previously been taken in the county. However, this species must still be listed as doubtfully occurring in Orange County until more precise and well substantiated records with complete data are available, particularly since, to my knowledge, no southern California captures of this species (other than records from the Colorado River) have been made by southern California lepidopterists.
From Orsak, L. J. (1977). The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Center for Pathobiology Miscellaneous Publication #3. University of California Press, New York. 349pp.