29 May 2012

Red-spotted Purple

A beautiful butterfly saddled with the dreadful scientific name Limenitis arthemis astyana. It's reasonably common because it is able to utilize a wide variety of trees (cherry, willow, aspen, poplar, birch, juneberry, basswood, hawthorn, apple) as host plants for its caterpillars.  It looks a bit like a Black Swallowtail or Pipevine Swallowtail, but of course lacks the "tail" that defines the swallowtails.

The "red-spottedness" is barely visible on the wingtips from above, but is much more apparent on the undersurface of the wings, which I was not able to photograph.  This fellow (?lady) was basking on fresh oak leaves at the Gotham Jack Pine Barrens State Natural Area last weekend (hiking path plotted on Pedometer).

I've never been successful in locating any eggs or caterpillars.  I would love to raise some because I would like to see one emerge fresh from a chrysalis.  Those wings are truly iridescent and frankly awesome in real life.  The photo enlarges with a click (and I'm currently using it for my wallpaper).


  1. Nice shot. I've been seeing them here in NJ too.

  2. Oh my goodness! I just photographed one of these on Saturday (in Shenandoah National Park) and had been wondering what it was. It was so beautiful, and I'm slightly disappointed in the name. Shouldn't a lovely creature have an equally lovely (or at least evocative) name? Red-spotted purple is distinctly unromantic to my view.

    1. Another name would be the Red-Spotted Admiral. Better?

  3. That's one pretty butterfly.
    Oregon doesn't seem to see many butterflies...
    (or maybe I'm just ignorant)

    1. Here are some resources for you -


      And if you really want to have fun finding them, contact your local NABA group -


  4. I had a perfect Orange Spotted Purple on my doorstep unable to fly. It lasted three days in my studio. So, I guess I must paint it now. ☺


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