Wisconsin Native Caterpillars
Red-Spotted Purple Caterpillar
Genus-Species: Leminitis arthemis astyanax
Description: Resembles bird droppings in all
stages. May be mottled brown or green with creamy blotches and two knobby horns
on thorax. To distinguish Red-spotted Purple caterpillars from Vicery caterpillars,
look for rounded rather than spiked projections behind the head.
Chrysalis: Shiny brown and white. Also resembles
a bird dropping. Thorax has a a large, keel-like projection.
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)
Habitat: Forest edges and openings, and roadsides and
trails through wooded areas.
Comments: 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.