Monarch or Painted Lady? How to Spot Impostors
The beautiful and massive Monarch Butterfly has the distinction of being the official state butterfly of Texas. However, there are plenty of imitation monarchs out there. How can you tell the difference between our esteemed state butterfly and it's (still very nice) relative, the Painted Lady?
Monarchs are generally much bigger in size than a Painted Lady, although it's not always easy to tell how big a butterfly really is when it's moving so quickly. There are also some of each type that are bigger or smaller, so it's not the most consistent method of distinguishing species.
An easy visual cue is to spot the spots. If the body of the butterfly is black with white spots (believe me, you'll know it when you see it) then it's a true Monarch. If the wings fade into a brown body, you've spotted an impostor.
Another easy visual cue is to look at the tips of the wings. A consistent black bar with spots is a Monarch, while less consistent, more scattered spots and splashes is indicative of a Painted Lady.
Both Monarchs and Painted Ladies are fascinating to see fluttering around your yard, and there are ways you can help attract them with certain native plants. This is beneficial to the butterflies, who are losing their habitats rapidly, and to your yard by creating a unique, living work of art.