Facts about the Viceroy:
It was originally believed that the Viceroy was a Batesian mimic of the
three other species, (Soldier, Monarch and Queen) and presumed edible or only
mildly unpalatable to predators, but this has since has been proven not to be
true. Batesian mimicry is a form of mimicry typified by a situation where a
harmless species has evolved to imitate the warning signals of a harmful species
directed at a common predator.
In fact, the Viceroy is a Müllerian mimic. Müllerian
mimicry is when two or more harmful species, that may or may not be closely
related and share one or more common predators, have come to mimic each
other's warning signals.
The Viceroy caterpillars feed on trees in the willow
family (Salicaceae), including willows (Salix), and poplars
and cottonwoods (Populus). The caterpillars sequester the salicylic acid
from these trees, in their bodies, which makes them bitter, and upsets
The Viceroy butterfly nectars on flowers. They also
can be found puddling and feeding on aphid honeydew, carrion, decaying fungi,
dung, rotting fruit, and tree sap.