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Red-spotted Purple Admiral (Limenitis arthemis)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Red-spotted Purple Admiral



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The large size and iridescent blue on the bottom of its wings are just similar enough for the Red-spotted Purple Admiral butterfly to be considered undesirable among predators.



Updated: 09/15/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Though the Red-spotted Purple Admiral lacks the tails of the Pipevine Swallowtail, it resembles it enough in size and coloring to benefit from mimicking it. The Pipevine Swallowtail deters predators from eating it by tasting awful. Though some Pipevines are killed in teaching animals this lesson, many others are spared once animals learn to avoid them. The Red-spotted Purple Admiral may see predator avoidance because it looks so much like the distasteful Pipevine Swallowtail. Research shows that it sometimes breeds with Viceroy butterflies.

Look for Red-spotted Purple Admiral butterflies from spring through autumn. Adult butterflies drink nectar from flowers, water from puddles, tree sap, and juices from rotting fruits. They are likely to be found on or near host plants for their caterpillars. Caterpillars eat the leaves of willow trees as well as poplar, cottonwood, deerberry, and black cherry. White eggs resembling tiny spiky golf balls are laid at the edges of leaves and the caterpillars eat away at the soft parts of the leaf once they hatch. The caterpillar resembles bird droppings. It is white and green with two yellow bumps near the head and two smaller yellow humps near its rear. When ready to pupate, it uses its own feces to attach its cocoon to rib of a chewed leaf. Depending on the latitude, Red-spotted Purple Admirals can produce two to three broods a year.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Nymphalidae
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          Genus: Limenitis
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            Species: arthemis
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Limenitis arthemis
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 75mm to 100mm (2.95" to 3.93")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: blue, black, purple, orange, red, white, yellow
Descriptors: flying, spots, pipevine, willow,

Red-Spotted-Purple-Admiral Video(s)




A Red-Spotted Purple Admiral warming itself in the sunshine.
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 75mm and 100mm
Lo: 75mm
Md: 87.5mm
Hi: 100mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Red-spotted Purple Admiral may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Red-spotted Purple Admiral. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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