Red-Spotted Purple . . . in Mississippi

Red-Spotted Purple butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Leroy Percy Park, Hollandale, MS, 9/08/09

My first trip to Mississippi. We visited family in Greenville and bivouacked in Leroy Percy State Park, in nearby Hollandale. This was 2011, many years since I met a fellow soldier, Gywnn, who spoke fondly of Mississippi, as we killed time in our bunks at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. But Gwynn was correct, Mississippi was a whole lot different from Brooklyn, New York, and from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Flat for as far as you could see, alligators in the park’s lake, and chiggers! I sought butterflies throughout Leroy Percy Park, and on returning to our log cabin, itching, a sudden onslaught of itching, not just here, or there, but just about everywhere? I did see mosquitoes. Mississippi does not lack mosquitoes. This itching came from  places that mosquitoes couldn’t have gotten to. And . . . I sprayed myself before I left, with Off! Back home, Off! is very effective. The Park Office hadn’t closed for the day, so I walked over there and asked the man and woman there about this almost unbearable itching (I’m starting to . . . itch). Immediate explanation. Chiggers! Tiny insects that get onto you in the high grasses. Our tough Pennsylvania winters make us chigger proof! Yay! for that.

Limenitis arthemis astyanax here in central western Mississippi is remarkably similar to those that we have posted here, from Pennsylvania. Though more than 900 miles apart, they sure look  like one another. Can you imagine that? Mississippi and Pennsylvania are so, so different. Their Red-spotted Purples are so, so similar.

Cech and Tudor (Princeton University Press, 2005) notes that the red marks near the forewing apex are more visible in  the females. Is our example here a male?


8 thoughts on “Red-Spotted Purple . . . in Mississippi

  1. I’m from nearby Louisiana, and I can tell you firsthand that the red bugs aka “chiggers” have been immune to Off! for a really long time in that area… they may very well love to eat it up by now! ;) Beautiful photo of a very lovely butterfly. :)


    • Many believe that this butterfly long ago modified its coloration to … mimic the look of Pipevine swallowtail butterflies (so toxic that birds avoid it 99.9% of the time). If so, haven’t our Red-spotted purples captured quite a look!
      Your Comment is happily received.


      • That is such an interesting topic: insect mimicking other insects. How do they do that? There are night time insects mimicking day time insects.They have never seen them and decide to dress alike! :-)


        • We Americans often daydream of sitting in a understated French cafe, demurely sipping a coffee concoction. If we were doing that, and considering your recent question, we’d at least need a 2nd, or even a 3rd cup. Your “dress alike” thought, and your esthetic skills, caused me to imagine 3 American ‘mimics, A red-spotted purple, a pipeline swallowtail and a female Diana fritillary…all hurtling forward, 3-abreast, into such a fashionable french cafe, self-confident, radiant and very attractive….


    • Thanks Andy. My wife grew up in Greenville. I loved photographing at Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge. Got my Black Russian pup, Petra, in Lumberton….Great state, beautiful butterflies!


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