Queen (Danaus gilippus) Life History
Queen (Danaus gilippus) Life History

An egg, 11-21-16

A second egg, pre-emergent, 11-21-16

Neonate, 11-22-16

Study caterpillar in first instar, 11-25-16

Second instar, 11-29-16

Third instar, 11-30-16

Fourth instar, 12-4-16

Study caterpillar is "black form" in fifth (final) instar, 12-10-16

A typical fifth-instar Queen; note yellow splotches in each wide black band

Chrysalis, 12-18-16

Fresh adult Queen, ventral, 1-2-17

Fresh adult Queen, dorsal, 1-2-17

The two eggs of this study were found on Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), a favorite host of Queens. The caterpillars emerged on 11-22 and 11-23. The elder matured more quickly, pupating and emerging about a week before the younger one.

Queen larvae can be cannibalistic, as shown in the picture below. They must figure that the best way to defeat the competition is to eat it.

Queen larva cannibalizing
smaller caterpillar

In comparatively warm winter weather, the journey from egg to adult took 4-5 weeks. A more rapid growth cycle would be expected in summer temperatures.

Queen Page