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Red Spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

Red Spotted Purple Butterfly

The Red Spotted Purple or White Admiral butterfly is a species of North American brush-footed butterflies that are known as an excellent example of ‘evolution of mimicry’, as well as a dramatic example of natural hybridization between mimetic and non-mimetic populations. Based on their characteristics, the butterfly has been divided into two groups, with the white admirals (L. a. astyanax) having a white band across the wings, which lacks in the red-spotted purples (L. a. arthemis).

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Genus: Limenitis
  • Scientific Name: Limenitis arthemis

Description and Identification


Red Spotted Purple Caterpillar

White Admiral Caterpillar

After hatching, this stage lasts for about two weeks. The head is brown while the body is bordered with yellow and dark brown markings and reddish brown legs.


Red Spotted Purple Butterfly Chrysalis

They are creamy white to silvery gray in color. The chrysalis stage lasts for about two weeks, too.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism:

Color and Appearance: The white admiral variety has a broad white band traversing both the primary and the secondary wings on a jet black base when the wings are open. Also, both the pairs of wings display a stitch-like pattern forming the borders. When the wings are closed, the ventral side shows a reddish orange to purplish red base with dark reddish dots and black/white markings at the borders.

Limenitis Arthemis Arthemis

Limenitis Arthemis Astyanax

On the other hand, when the wings of the red-spotted purple are open, they show an iridescent bluish base with dark lines all over the wings, along with light blue, black, white and orange spots forming borders. When closed, they show a lighter shade of blue, while the basal area is studded with a row of red sub-marginal spots and marginal blue spots.

Average wingspan: Up to 3.5 inches

Flight pattern: Short flights at low altitudes (2 to 3 feet off the ground)


Red Spotted Purple Butterfly Eggs folksbutterflyfarm.com

Eggs are greyish green in color with cells having a kite-like appearance. They last for about seven days.

Quick Facts

Distribution Red spotted purples are widely spread throughout North America, while the white admiral variety is found towards the far north side
Habitat Mostly diurnal, the insects prefer shady areas of the deciduous woodlands along the forest edges, and even by the roadsides
Lifespan of adults 6 to 14 days
Host plants Primarily feed upon black cherry (Prunus serotina Ehrh.) and deerberry (Vaccineum stamineum L.)
Adult diet Flower nectar

Did You Know?

  • Male butterflies are highly aggressive and display territorial disputes before the season of reproduction, with each fight lasting for about 2 to 5 minutes.
  • When a male tries to mate with the female, it comes and sits on top of the latter. If the female is not willing to mate, it closes its primary wings.

Red Spotted Purple Admiral 

Red Spotted Purple Butterfly Male en.wikipedia.org

White Admiral Butterfly

Red Spotted Purple Butterfly Range entnemdept.ufl.edu

Red Spotted Purple Butterfly Female bugguide.net

Red Spotted Purple Host Plant 

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Genus: Limenitis
  • Scientific Name: Limenitis arthemis
Published by Avatar on August 20, 2018.
Last Updated: December 28, 2022. ✅ Verified by: Butterfly Team