Letter: Viceroy butterflies — not actually monarch mimics

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Your readers might like to know that the viceroy is not a batesian (palatable) mimic of the monarch [See “A Monarch by Any Other Name,” and “A Royal (Butterfly) Mistake,” both Oct. 10, Xpress].

David B. Ritland and Lincoln P. Brower published their research in Nature 350, 497-498 (11 April 1991), which showed that viceroys tasted as badly to birds as monarchs did [see avl.mx/5fa].

So viceroys aren’t a monarch imitator. Both butterflies co-evolved this feature of being unpalatable to birds.

— Elizabeth Costlow Bartlett

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