Soldier (Danaus eresimus)
The Soldier Butterfly is a species of brightly colored, dark orange butterflies that are found in both the Americas. Because of their relatively slow flight and movements, they are easily approachable and visible by the watchers.
- Family: Nymphalidae
- Genus: Danaus
- Common names: Tropical Queen
- Scientific Name: Danaus eresimus
Description and Identification
The larva is black with white and yellow stripes banded all over the body. It has three pairs of fleshy filaments, all in black, with one pair each on the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. It also carries a subdorsal row of yellowish-tan marks.
The chrysalis is bright green and hangs from under the leaf of the host plant. It is very similar in appearance to the monarch butterfly, and it is difficult for the watchers to distinguish between the two.
Sexual Dimorphism: Vaguely present
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, they display a dark reddish brown coloration with the forewings in some specimens carrying submarginal spots in white. There are also light black venations on the wings. The males display a black scent patch on both the secondary wings, which the females lack. When the wings are closed, they display a similar coloration and pattern, except for the postmedian band made up of square spots. The butterfly has a subspecies (D. e. flexaure) that display more white markings on the ventral side of the secondary wings.
Average wingspan: 2½ to 3½ inches (64–76 mm)
Flight pattern: Slow, in short distances
Bright orange in color, laid on the leaves of host plants
|Distribution||Southern parts of Florida and South Texas, West Indies, CentralAmerica to Brazil|
|Habitat||Open, subtropical regions including citrus groves, weedy water edges where there are abundant host plants, and seasonally in the dry fields and forests|
|Lifespan of adults||Believed to be about 6 to 9 months|
|Host plants||Milkweeds and milkweed vines including Strangler vine (Morrenia odorata), White vine (Funastrum clausum), and West Indian pinkroot (Spigelia anthelmia)|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar|
Did You Know?
- Unlike many other species, the female soldier butterflies can have three or even more broods per year.