A Tale of Two Butterflies: One Native, One Exotic (Queen and Doris Longwing)

If you live in Arizona—or in many spots in the Old or the New World!— you can easily see Queen butterflies and Doris Longwing butterflies. But, if you are in Arizona (or any place other than Central America or the Amazon), you are only likely to see the latter, however, in a special place called Butterfly Wonderland. This literal hot-house (a very hot and humid tented structure) is home to exotics, especially rainforest butterflies. Promising “A Rainforest Experience,” it is found in Scottsdale Arizona, near Phoenix.

One of the gorgeous butterflies on display in the central Arizona “Butterfly Wonderland” is a Doris Longwing. My favorite place to see Queen butterflies, on the other hand, is Sedona, in northern Arizona. The role of humans in constructing the Wonderland is obvious. The best place to find Queen butterflies is around the ponds constituting the “Sedona Wetlands Preserve,” the result of long planning and work by the City of Sedona and various organizations, especially Northern Arizona Audubon Society.

Here is a secret— both the Doris Longwing and the Queen try to trick the birds that eat them into thinking they are “someone” else. Queens are Monarch “mimics,” and the Doris Longwing is part of a large and complex group of mimics. If you are one of these butterfly species, the trick is to convince birds that you taste bad. In fact you might, but it may well be that you evolved your color pattern to overdo it. Queens look like Monarchs, and it happens they both eat milkweed. That food actually makes them toxic to birds. Doris Longwings are involved in similar trickery or exaggeration.

Here is my trick— addressing your scientific curiosity to give you a different perspective on the beautiful appearance of butterflies, and asking you to consider buying a digital copy of my photos of these two beauties, the Queen and the Doris Longwing, the first an Arizona native, the second a rainforest “guest” of an Arizona educational attraction (Butterfly Wonderland).

If you buy either of the thumbnail images below, your very own digital copy will be a larger size.

The Queen butterfly photo was shot at ISO 64, f5, 1/125s on my Olympus E-M1 MarkII, with 40-150 lens.


Two Queen butterflies (Danaus gilippus) on a member of the Baccharis genus of plant (probably B. sarothroides, “desert broom,” near the first pond, Sedona Wetlands Preserve. Taken on 19 Sept 2021; photo number P9194641


Here is my photograph of one of the Doris Longwing butterfly. I was using my Olympus E-M1 MarkII, with 40-150 lens, ISO 64, f2.8, 1/125s, handheld.


This is one of the several Doris Longwing butterflies that graced me with their presence as I sweat buckets in the tropical conditions at the Butterfly Wonderland, August 3, 2021.


PS. I admit that I might not have gotten the butterfly science perfectly. If you make a comment, as I hope you do in any case, you are welcome to send me corrections.

Happy holidays! Please let me know if you have fun giving a photo to someone (e.g. that little scientist in your family).

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