White Admiral Butterfly (Limenitis arthemis)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the White Admiral Butterfly.
Updated: 8/25/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Variations in orange color and geographic range gave rise to subspecies and, hence, multiple names for the White Admiral Butterfly.
A typical White Admiral in Canada is mostly black with a white band on the top side and a few dark orange dots on the underside of the wings. This variation is the unofficial insect of Quebec. The Red-Spotted Purple variation is more commonly seen in the southeast U.S. and is mostly black with no white on the top side, but has lots of blue coloring and bright orange spots underneath. An identical butterfly found in the Southwest has a different subspecies name simply because its location is so far away from the southeastern subspecies. Both mimic the toxic Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly. The Western White Admiral ranges in Alaska and Canada has the black body and white band like the typical White Admiral, but it adds orange spots on both top and bottom sides of the wings.
All this means is that it may take a bit more time to sort out which type of Admiral is one sees in the wild. Males can be found perching 3 feet above ground on shrubs or other plants patrolling for intruders and for females. Adults drink liquids from rotting carcasses, animal dung, tree sap and decaying flowers. Look for them in mixed forests or deciduous woodlands.
Caterpillars feed on chokecherry, birch, poplar, cottonwood and willow leaves. They are brown and ivory with a random color pattern that helps them look like bird droppings on a branch. They have a pair of black, hairy horns at one end and pairs of bumps along the body.