The queen butterfly is a member of the nymphalidae family and resembles its cousin the monarch butterfly. It's called a milkweed butterfly because the caterpillar feeds on milkweed. The adults sip nectar from the milkweed flowers. The queen is an orange-brown butterfly whose wings have black borders and forewings have white spots. The black veining is more prominent on the hindwings. The average wingspan is about 3 inches.
The queen can be found from Brazil to Florida and in the American southwest. It prefers sunny, open areas like roadsides, pastures, meadows and fields. It also prefers a warm climate and doesn't migrate quite as extensively as the larger monarch butterfly.
The queen female tends to be larger than the male. During the complex courtship, the male uses organs called hair pencils to release pheromones to attract the females. After mating, the female lays one egg at a time on the milkweed plant. This may be because queen caterpillars are cannibalistic. The egg is oval, ribbed and ridged, with a flattened top and bottom. The caterpillar that emerges is blue-gray, with black, white, yellow, green and blue stripes and false tentacles. Its pupa is pale green and stippled with golden spots.