Red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax) is a North American brush-footed butterfly with a wingspan of up to 3.5 inches. The upper sides of the wings are black and iridescent blue with minor orange spots, and the underside tend to have more brown-black, and blue with more striking orange spots. Most species in the genus Limenitis and even different subspecies of the same species as Red-spotted purple are black with a white stripe. The reason Red-spotted purple is different is because it mimics toxic Pipevine Swallowtail, Papilio philenor.
Habitat & Life Cycle
It can be found in Florida, and west into Texas and north as far as New Hampshire to Minnesota. Host plants for this butterfly in Florida are black cherry and deerberry, and some willows. In other regions, the host plants vary. The larvae and pupae are camouflaged as bird droppings when small and later as twigs.
Our McGuire Center for Lepidoptera & Biodiversity houses a large collection of red-spot purple specimens, donated by Austin Platt, who studied this species and its relatives (viceroy and white admiral).
• Learn more about the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera & Biodiversity at the Florida Museum.
• University of Florida’s Entomology & Nematology website: Red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax)