Red-Spotted Purple

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Look closely at woodland edges and you may see a flicker of iridescent blues accented with splashes of red; the calling card of a red-spotted purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis astyanax).  The red-spotted purple is so named because of its overall purple hue and for the red to orangish-red spots on the underside of the wings.

 

Red-Spotted Purple

 

The red-spotted purple avoids being eaten owing to its strong resemblance to the poisonous pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor).  This is called Batesian mimicry.  Probably the most well-known example of this type of mimicry is the relationship between the edible viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) and the noxious monarch (Danaus plexippus).

 

Red-spotted purple caterpillars feed on the leaves of a wide range of deciduous trees and shrubs.  Plant hosts include members of the genera Amelanchier (serviceberry), Betula (birches), Crataegus (hawthorn), Prunus (cherries) Populus (poplars), Quercus (oaks), Tilia (basswood), and Salix (willows).