The top 5 species most confused with the monarch

Milkweed tiger moth (Euchaetes egle)
Credit: iNaturalist - Dustin Minialoff
Milkweed tiger moth (Euchaetes egle)
  • Milkweed tiger moth (Euchaetes egle)
  • Black swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes)
  • Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)
  • Painted lady (Vanessa cardui)
  • Eastern comma (Polygonia comma)
The top 5 species most confused with the monarch

Every year we impatiently look forward to this moment: the arrival of the majestic monarch butterfly. But did you know that there are a number of other butterflies that look like it? Discover the insects that are sometimes confused with the monarch.

The milkweed tiger moth caterpillar

Grey and slightly hairy at the beginning of its life, the milkweed tiger moth caterpillar (Euchaetes egle) shares the monarch’s host plant, the milkweed. Unlike the monarch caterpillar, which is rather solitary in nature, the milkweed tiger moth caterpillar lives in groups. Dozens of them can be found nibbling on milkweed leaves.

The black swallowtail caterpillar

The black swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes) has different dietary preferences from the monarch’s. This lepidopteran loves plants in the umbellifer family (parsley, celery, carrot, fennel…). So it’s normal to find this caterpillar in your garden if you’re growing those plants. The black swallowtail caterpillar is pale green in color and presents black bands with yellow or orange dots. The monarch, meanwhile, has yellow, white and black stripes.

Moreover, unlike the monarch caterpillar, the black swallowtail has no filaments near the head or at the end of the abdomen. It nevertheless has an orange fork-shaped organ called an osmeterium located near the head that the caterpillar deploys when it feels threatened.

The viceroy

The viceroy (Limenitis archippus) is the butterfly most easily confused with the monarch. This monarch lookalike is present from central to eastern Canada. The viceroy, which measures about seven centimeters, is smaller in size than the monarch. It also displays a black line that crosses the veins on its back wings.

The painted lady

The painted lady (Vanessa cardui) is the most widespread butterfly species in the world. Just like the monarch, it’s a migratory species with orange wings. However, the painted lady does not present black veins, but black and white patches instead. On the rear of its back wings, it sports pale colors and a row of eyespots. The painted lady’s flight is fast and intermittent, unlike the slow fluttering of the monarch.


Polygonia are a genus of butterflies in the Nymphalidae family. Most of the species in this genus have orange wings. However, unlike monarchs, polygonia have irregular shapes and lacy wings. Sightings of the eastern comma (Polygonia comma) in Canada are synonymous with the arrival of spring.

Would you like to have a visual support to help you differentiate the monarch from other butterflies? An identification fact sheet exists that will assist you in properly identifying them. Consult it and report your monarch observations on the Mission monarch site. That way you’ll contribute to the safeguarding of this emblematic species!

To learn more about the essential role of insects and arthropods
Subscribe to the Our Neighbours the Insects newsletter

Share this page

Follow us!

Subscribe to receive by email:
15 Comment(s)
lastagepod's picture

Your article has helped me distinguish and recognize worms more intuitively and clearly. I had been confused before with the Painted Butterfly, which, like the monarch, is the most common butterfly in the world. skibidi toilet

Alex Turner's picture
Alex Turner

Thank you for the article. I wanted to learn more about this, but I got distracted reading Slotamia games reviews. Indeed, for those intrigued by these winged wonders, an identification chart is available to help distinguish monarchs from their look-alikes. By leaving their observations on the Mission Monarch website, enthusiasts play an important role in the conservation of this emblematic species. Explore the variety of butterflies, appreciate their unique traits, and join the mission to preserve these fascinating creatures.

Wilde's picture

Aligning Tasks Appropriately:
Each enneagram test type often excels in a specific area. By understanding team members' personalities, you can assign tasks that align with their interests and skills

salimosamino's picture

I enjoyed your post for its informative and captivating content. Thanks! palworld

Heroba Heji's picture
Heroba Heji

dreadhead parkour enthusiasts often mistake monarch butterflies for tiny winged spectators, especially during their fast, erratic flights.

Heroba Heji's picture
Heroba Heji

Exploring butterflies like a kinitopet! Confuse the monarch? Not anymore! Learn about lookalikes and join the Mission Monarch to protect these beauties!

Brent Olson's picture
Brent Olson

Thanks for the information. I wanted to know more about it, but got distracted because I decided to go to the slots at Slotamia, my favourite is Divine Lotus. And besides games, there are some interesting gaming blogs there, so I mix all my interests, and came to the realisation that I love not only biology and my garden, but also gambling. Indeed, the monarch butterfly is truly a natural wonder, captivating people all over the world with its stunning beauty and amazing migrations. These iconic insects are famous for their bright orange wings adorned with black veins and white spots, making them easily recognisable. Even more fascinating is their incredible migration, spanning thousands of miles from Canada and the United States to Mexico and back again.

Fakkala's picture

I have been looking for a very long time for the most reliable casinos today with a long and stable reputation. It is not so easy to find such casinos, so I was looking for a competent analytical analysis of various casinos and fortunately I managed to learn about the list of casinos over here without much difficulty. I immediately started looking and now I already play in several of them. So far there have been no problems, so I can safely recommend you this list of casinos.

Fakkala's picture


Alex's picture

It's great slope and I think anyone would feel the same way.

Charmaine_lily's picture

A scientific, useful, and slope humane article. The article contributes to raising public awareness about the monarch butterfly, a rare butterfly species that needs to be protected.

huynher's picture

Quick Draw is a fun and challenging game. It can be played individually or in groups, allowing for both competitive and cooperative gameplay options.

Slither io's picture
Slither io

Slither io: Join the addictive multiplayer game where you control a snake and aim to become the longest one in the arena.

Add new comment
Anonymous's picture