Red-spotted Purple, Limenitis arthemis astyanax

Red-spotted Purple

Limenitis arthemis astyanax

Description:
Above, the Red-spotted Purple is mainly a black butterfly with iridescent blue, that is most impressive in fresh specimens and good light, where the red spots that are obvious from below can sometimes be seen. This butterfly is a mimic of the Pipevine Swallowtail and as such looks like a miniature swallowtail, but with no tail. There are a few white spots near the apex of the forewing. Below, this butterfly is black with blue spots in the wing margins, but obvious submarginal red spots in both the forewing and hindwing and some red spots nearer the body.

Habitat:
Forest edges and openings, and roadsides and trails through wooded areas.

Overwintering Strategy:   Mid-stage Caterpillars

Flight:   
The Red-spotted Purple is a common butterfly in the southern half of Wisconsin. Throughout central Wisconsin, this subspecies and the White Admiral are both present, and sometimes they hybridize. The offspring can have characteristics anywhere between the two subspecies. This butterfly is often found taking nutrients from gravel roads, roadsides, or scat.

Caterpillar Host Plants:
Leaves of many species of trees and shrubs including Wild cherry (Prunus species), Aspen and Cottonwood (Populus species), Oaks (Quercus species), Hawthorn (Crataegus species), Birch (Betula species), Willows (Salix species), Basswood (Tilia americana), and Shadbush or Serviceberry (Amelanchier species)

Notes:   
The Red-spotted Purple is a common butterfly in the southern half of Wisconsin. Throughout central Wisconsin, this subspecies and the White Admiral are both present, and sometimes they hybridize. The offspring can have characteristics anywhere between the two subspecies. This butterfly is often found taking nutrients from gravel roads, roadsides, or scat.

Overwintering Strategy

Two-way migration: Adult migrates from Wisconsin to Central Mexico
Small migration: Adult migrates from Wisconsin to southern US
Immigrant: Adult migrates into Wisconsin from warmer areas and don't fly south in winter
Adult Butterfly: Hibernates overwinter as an adult butterfly
Eggs: Eggs laid on stems, twigs or foot plants overwinter in diapause
Caterpillar: Caterpillars make nests on the base of plants and hibernate until spring
Chrysalis: Caterpillars shed their last skin, form a chrysalis and enter diapause.

For more information, read: Where Do Butterflies Go In Winter?

Further Information:   

 Design A Butterfly Garden
 Take The Butterfly Quiz
 Monarch Life Cycle
 Butterflies and Moths of North America
 WisconsinButterflies.org
 Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Assn (NABA)
 The Butterfly Site

Bees flying footer graphic