What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Odd Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar
Location: Hawthorne, California
January 4, 2015 6:47 pm
Hi,
I spotted the odd markings on the caterpillar on top earlier today, so took a few quick shots. Imagine my surprise when I got them on the computer, zoomed in, and noticed that the rear antennae aren’t where they are supposed to be! I’m as sure as I can be that it is a Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar and that something has gone wrong. Have you ever seen this type of mutation? I’ve seen them with different markings, but not this noticeable and certainly not with rear antennae so high up on the body.
Signature: Thanks, Anna Carreon

Queen Caterpillar (above) and Monarch Caterpillar

Queen Caterpillar (above) and Monarch Caterpillar

Dear Anna,
We are thrilled to be able to tell you this exciting news.  The reason this caterpillar looks like a Monarch Caterpillar is that it is a related “royal” species in the same genus, the Caterpillar of a Queen.  Adult Queen Butterflies are darker than Monarch Butterflies and their markings are not as pronounced, but they look very similar.  Queen Butterflies also have habits very similar to those of Monarchs, including food plants, but Queens do not migrate.  Congratulations on your new species sighting.

Queen Caterpillar (upper right) and Monarch Caterpillars

Queen Caterpillar (upper right) and Monarch Caterpillars

Oh, my!  Well, I am also thrilled!  I was sure it was some sort of mutation.  I guess I really should stop believing I know what I am talking about and leave stuff like this to those who have more experience and know better.
Thank you so much for making my day!
Anna

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Hawthorne, California

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