red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis)
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.
FAMILY: Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)
SUBFAMILY: Admirals and Relatives (Limenitidinae)
IDENTIFICATION: These two very different forms had once been
considered separate species. WHITE ADMIRAL: Upperside is black
with broad white median bands on both wings; hindwing has a marginal
row of blue dashes and a submarginal row of red dots. Underside is
reddish-brown with white median bands as on the upperside.
RED-SPOTTED PURPLE: Upperside is blue to blue-green with
much iridescence on the outer part of the hindwing. Underside is
dark brown. Forewing has 2 red-orange bars near the base of the
leading edge; hindwing has 3 red-orange spots near the base and a
submarginal row of red-orange spots. The two forms hybridize where
their ranges overlap, creating various intermediate forms which may
be found in or near the overlap zone.
LIFE HISTORY: Males perch 3 feet or more above the ground on trees
and tall bushes and rarely patrol for females. Eggs are laid singly on
tips of host plant leaves; caterpillars eat leaves. Third-stage caterpillars
FLIGHT: Two broods from April-October.
WING SPAN: 2 1/4 - 4 inches (5.7 - 10.1 cm).
CATERPILLAR HOSTS: Leaves of many species of trees and shrubs
including wild cherry (Prunus), aspen, poplar, cottonwood (Populus),
oaks (Quercus), hawthorn (Crataegus), deerberry (Vaccinium
stamineum), birch (Betula), willows (Salix), basswood (Tilia), and
ADULT FOOD: Sap flows, rotting fruit, carrion, dung, and occasionally
nectar from small white flowers including spiraea, privet, and
viburnum. White Admirals also sip aphid honeydew.
HABITAT: The White Admiral form is usually found in the north in
deciduous broad-leaf or mixed evergreen forests dominated by aspen
or birch. The Red-Spotted Purple form is usually found further south
than the White Admiral, in deciduous or mixed forests, moist uplands,
valley bottoms, and coastal plains.
RANGE: Alaska and subarctic Canada southeast of the Rocky Mountains
to central Texas; east to New England and central Florida. Isolated
populations in Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas south into Mexico.
The White Admiral form usually occurs north of a line through north
central New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota.
The Red-spotted Purple form is usually found south of this line. Much
hybridization occurs where these forms meet. Comments: The
Red-spotted Purple is a mimic of the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail
CONSERVATION: Not usually required.
NATURESERVE GLOBAL STATUS: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally,
though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the
MANAGEMENT NEEDS: None reported.
SKY MEADOWS OCCURRENCE:
Note: Due to seasonal conditions in this region, occurrence may vary from
year to year. The designation of occurrence may range over two or more
categories and may vary even during a single season.
Key to Checklist
A Abundant: Easy to see very large numbers of individuals in appropriate habitat
at proper time of year.
C Common: Usually each to see good numbers of individuals in appropriate habitat
at proper time of year.
U Uncommon: Sometimes found in appropriate habitat and proper time of year,
usually in low numbers.
O Occasional: Found in appropriate habitat perhaps only a few times a year, usually
in low numbers.
R Rare: Small chance of being found, even in appropriate habitat at proper time of
year. There are few individuals and may not be present every year.
X Extirpated: Formerly present, no longer occurs in Sky Meadows Park.
Calendar of Events
Sky Meadows Park
Crooked Run Valley