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Photo#414389
Admiral - Limenitis arthemis - Limenitis arthemis - female

Admiral - Limenitis arthemis - Limenitis arthemis - Female
Bastress Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, USA
June 20, 2010
Found this yesterday on my butterfly bush. While I believe that it probably falls in the Northeastern Segregate, the stronger white outer bands and the lack of red on the hind wings give me pause. Also note the white dots on the front wing. Is this just simply another variant or have I got the wrong ID? Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.

The white band on the hind wing
is a little narrower than average, but this is overall a pretty "typical" White Admiral, northeastern United States style.

As for your question, it's sort of the other way round.

The problem is that all of the "typical" subspecies arthemis are intermediate to more northern White Admirals, and Red-spotted Purples in character. Basically (ignoring the white bands) they are Red-spotted Purples; sharing the more angular shape of the hind wing, the strong purple/blue/green reflective upper side, and the general reduction in red coloring (both above and below). The insect originally named arthemis is of this type (like in your photo), and populations are stable enough over a wide enough area that they are called a subspecies.

On the other hand the "northeastern segregate" is separated here mainly because it looks like ssp. rubrofasciata (enough to cause a lot of comment and confusion), yet it has no name of it's own. Some (like myself) would tend to just have that subspecies name cover northern populations that look similar eastward all the way to the Atlantic, but traditionally the name covers insects only east to about Manitoba. It's debated a lot, and there is lots of disagreement on the subject. Anyway, those northern ones aren't well-represented in the US and occur mostly only here and there near the Canadian border, sneaking a little further south on some of the higher ground.

There is no clean-cut line between any of them either, because they all blend into one-another.

The sequence goes (roughly north to south) something like -
1) rubrofasciata wings a bit more rounded, less purple above, largely rusty orangey below with the submarginal orange spots tending to fuse into a band, etc.)
1-east) northeastern counterpart to previous (no name, mostly found in Canada)
2) "typical" arthemis (basically the same as yours, but white bands average wider)
3) the "traditional" intermediates in which the white band is reduced to barely present
4) astyanax (with no white band)
5) arizonensis (barely different from astyanax and separated by geography)

It is a continuum though, and lots of specimens fall uncomfortably between any categories we might make for them. It's perhaps easiest to think of it all as one big variable entity and not as separated kinds (rather like human beings). The absence or presence of the white band isn't as important as it's made out to be. It might also help perspective to think of rubrofasciata + "northeast segregate" as one "type", Red-spotted Purples as the other "type", and everything else as intermediate.

Moved from ID Request.

 
David, Thank you very much for taking the time to
post this explanation. People like you who take the time to offer this type of information are what makes this site the great resource that it is.

 
Thanks right back at you,
and you are very welcome. BugGuide is a lot of fun, and a great resource. I'm very glad it's here.

Intergrade?
One of these, perhaps?

 
Thanks.
But my next question now is, what is the difference between the Northeastern Segregate and the Intergrade? Both seem to be a combination of White Admiral and Red-Spotted Purple.

 
LOL, I really don't know, as
LOL, I really don't know, as there is a great deal of variety of markings among intergrades.

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