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?