Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly Getting Minerals from a Moist Pennsylvania Trail

Red Spotted Purple butterfly photographed by Jef Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

This Red-Spotted Purple butterfly is intent upon getting minerals from the moist trail substrate.

They appear in early summer and the last of them, looking less splendid, may be seen in early September.

Those rich red spots are at the front of each forewing and can also be seen on the ventral (underside) wing surface. No 2 butterflies are identical.

This is another butterfly that flies quickly away from you to a new spot some 30 feet away. If you have the patience to pursue, eventually you’ll get the photo that you seek.


One thought on “Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly Getting Minerals from a Moist Pennsylvania Trail

  1. Wing Span: 2 1/4 – 4 inches (5.7 – 10.1 cm).

    Life History: Males perch 3 feet or more above the ground on trees and tall bushes and rarely patrol for females. Eggs are laid singly on tips of host plant leaves; caterpillars eat leaves. Third-stage caterpillars hibernate.

    Flight: Two broods from April-October.

    Caterpillar Hosts: Leaves of many species of trees and shrubs including wild cherry (Prunus), aspen, poplar, cottonwood (Populus), oaks (Quercus), hawthorn (Crataegus), deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum), birch (Betula), willows (Salix), basswood (Tilia), and shadbush (Amelanchier).

    Adult Food: Sap flows, rotting fruit, carrion, dung, and occasionally nectar from small white flowers including spiraea, privet, and viburnum. White Admirals also sip aphid honeydew.

    Habitat: The White Admiral form is usually found in the north in deciduous broad-leaf or mixed evergreen forests dominated by aspen or birch. The Red-Spotted Purple form is usually found further south than the White Admiral, in deciduous or mixed forests, moist uplands, valley bottoms, and coastal plains.

    Range: Alaska and subarctic Canada southeast of the Rocky Mountains to central Texas; east to New England and central Florida. Isolated populations in Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas south into Mexico. The White Admiral form usually occurs north of a line through north central New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota. The Red-spotted Purple form is usually found south of this line. Much hybridization occurs where these forms meet. Comments: The Red-spotted Purple is a mimic of the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor).


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