Monarch vs. Painted Lady

The case of the Monarch butterfly vs. Painted Lady butterfly (also Viceroy butterfly) An orange butterfly fluttered by. Was it a Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)? Or a Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui)? If it’s a Monarch, it is species of Special Concern listed under the Species at Risk Act and is not a crop pest. Instead, it’s larvae feed solely on milkweed (Asclepias spp.), typically found in wetland areas. Painted Lady larvae, on the other hand, feed on a wider range of plants including sunflower, canola, mustard, borage, soybean, Canada thistle, burdock, knapweed, wormwood and many other plant species. While neither species overwinter in Canada, Monarchs have regular migratory routes into Canada from Mexico through the USA; Painted Ladies are accidental tourists that are on occasion blown up from the US. One important distinguishing characteristic is the distinct black band with white dots that outline the wings of Monarchs. Painted Ladies do not have this band; instead they have thin white markings along the scalloped wing edges.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
cc by sa 3.0 Kenneth Dwain Harrelson
Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui)
cc by 3.0 Jean-Pol Grandmont
Viceroy butterflies (Limenitis archippus)
cc by 2.0 Benny Mazur

Viceroy butterflies (Limenitis archippus) are even more difficult to tell from Monarchs. Viceroys are smaller than Monarchs and sport a black line running through the middle (side-to-side) of the hindwing. Like the Monarch, Viceroys are not crop pests as their larvae feed exclusively on trees of the willow family (willow, poplar, cottonwood). For more information about Painted Lady butterflies, see the Insect of the Week page and our posts on the annual Monarch butterfly migration.  The case of the innocuous versus the evil twin: When making pest management decisions, be sure that the suspect is actually a pest. This can be challenge since insects often mimic each other or look very similar. An insect that looks, moves and acts like a pest may in fact be a look-alike or doppelganger.

Doppelgangers may be related (e.g. same genus) or may not be related, as in the case of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and viceroys (Limenitis achrippus).  Doppelgangers are usually relatively harmless but sometimes the doppelganger is a pest yet their behaviour, lifecycle or hosts
may be different.

Correctly identifying a pest enables selection of the most accurate scouting or monitoring protocol. Identification and monitoring enables the application of economic thresholds. It also enables a producer to select and apply the most effective control option(s) including method and timing of application. For the rest of the growing season, the Insect of the Week will feature insect crop pests and their doppelgangers.

Review previously featured insects by visiting the Insect of the Week page.

Monarch migration

We continue to track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2019 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 04Jul2019) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map.  They are moving west and near Yorkton, Saskatchewan this week!

Access this Post to help you differentiate between Monarchs and Painted Lady Butterflies!

Visit the Journey North website to learn more about migration events in North America and visit their monarch butterfly website for more information related to this amazing insect. 

Monarch migration

We continue to track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2019 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 18Jun2019) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map.  They are moving west in Manitoba and getting closer to Saskatchewan this week!

Access this Post to help you differentiate between Monarchs and Painted Lady Butterflies!

Visit the Journey North website to learn more about migration events in North America and visit their monarch butterfly website for more information related to this amazing insect.  

Monarch migration

We continue to track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2019 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 14Jun2019) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map.  They are moving further north and west in Manitoba!

Visit the Journey North website to learn more about migration events in North America and visit their monarch butterfly website for more information related to this amazing insect.  

Monarch migration

We continue to track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2019 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 06Jun2019) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map.  They are in Manitoba!

Visit the Journey North website to learn more about migration events in North America and visit their monarch butterfly website for more information related to this amazing insect.  

Monarch migration

We continue to track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2018 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 28Jun2018) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map.  They are in Manitoba and moving west through southern Saskatchewan this week!

Visit the Journey North website to learn more about migration events in North America and visit their monarch butterfly website for more information related to this fascinating insect.  

Monarch migration

We continue to track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2018 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 21Jun2018) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map.  They are in Manitoba and moving west through southern Saskatchewan this week!

Visit the Journey North website to learn more about migration events in North America and visit their monarch butterfly website for more information related to this fascinating insect.  

Monarch migration

We continue to track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2018 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 12Jun2018) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map.  Last week monarchs were spotted in Manitoba and this week they’ve entered Saskatchewan!

Visit the Journey North website to learn more about migration events in North America and visit their monarch butterfly website for more information related to this fascinating insect.  

Monarch migration

We continue to track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2018 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 29May2018) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map! 


Visit the Journey North website to learn more about migration events in North America and visit their monarch butterfly website for more information related to this fascinating insect.  

Monarch migration

We again track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2018 Monarch Migration MapA screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 29May2018) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map! 



Visit the Journey North website to learn more about migration events in North America and visit their monarch butterfly website for more information related to this fascinating insect.  

Weekly Update – Monarch migration

We again track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2017 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 06Jul2017) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map! 

Weekly Update – Monarch migration

We again track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2017 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 22Jun2017) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map!  They’ve migrated into southern Manitoba (various), southeast Saskatchewan (near Rhein), and now Alberta (near Sylvan Lake)! 

Weekly Update – Monarch migration

We again track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2017 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 22Jun2017) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map!  They’ve migrated into southern Manitoba and into southeast Saskatchewan! 

Weekly Update – Monarch migration

We again track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2017 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 08Jun2017) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map!  They’ve migrated into southern Manitoba and are spreading northwards in Ontario and Quebec! 

Weekly Update – Monarch migration

We again track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2017 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 01Jun2017) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map!  They’ve migrated into southern Ontario and Quebec! 

Weekly Update – Monarch migration

We again track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2017 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 26May2017) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map!  They’ve migrated into southern Ontario! 


Weekly Update – Monarch migration

We again track the migration of the Monarch butterflies as they move north by checking the 2017 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 18May2017) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map!  They’ve migrated into the extreme south of Ontario! 


Weekly Update – Monarch migration

We again track the migration of the Monarch butterflies and they move north by checking the 2017 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 11May2017) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map!  They’re getting closer to Canada! 


Weekly Update – Monarch migration

We again track the migration of the Monarch butterflies and they move north by checking the 2017 Monarch Migration Map!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 04May2017) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map!


Weekly Update – Monarch migration

Track the migration of the Monarch butterflies and they move north by checking the 2016 Monarch Migration Map!  Sightings have been reported in southern Ontario and southern British Columbia by now!  A screen shot of the map has been placed below as an example (retrieved 01Jun2016) but follow the hyperlink to check the interactive map!