Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Calendar
Upcoming Events

Information, insects and people from the 2019 BugGuide Gathering in Louisiana, July 25-27

Discussion, insects and people from the 2018 gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa


TaxonomyBrowseInfoImagesLinksBooksData
Photo#442893
Red-Spotted Purple - Limenitis arthemis?  Male?  Female? - Limenitis arthemis - female

Red-Spotted Purple - Limenitis arthemis? Male? Female? - Limenitis arthemis - Female
Irwin, PA, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, USA
August 15, 2010
Size: ~ 3"x5" & 2"x4"
These two butterflies were feeding on pears under a pear tree. They appeared to be a mated pair due to their interaction. After browsing BugGuide images, I think that they are Red-Spotted Purple - Limenitis arthemis. The larger had brown areas at the forward tips of the wings. The smaller one had distinctive small dark red spots along the edges of the wings. Is my ID correct? If they are a mated pair, which is the male and which is the female. Thank you in advance for this information.

Images of this individual: tag all
Red-Spotted Purple - Limenitis arthemis?  Male?  Female? - Limenitis arthemis - female Red-Spotted Purple - Limenitis arthemis?  Male?  Female? - Limenitis arthemis - male Red-Spotted Purple - Limenitis arthemis?  Male?  Female? - Limenitis arthemis

Moved
Moved from ID Request.

Identification is indeed correct.
As for gender, the larger one with more brown would be the female. Also, if you look at the abdomens, the female's has a much fuller shape; this usually helps. The genders in this species can be difficult to tell from a photo though, as they look very similar. Generally also, the female wings are a bit less angular and more full in shape, the females often have more pronounced patterning near the margin of the wings. They behave a bit differently too, with the males more likely to act pugnacious towards other butterflies and to establish territories, while the females more casually fly along the edges of sunny areas looking for places to lay eggs. Both genders will sometimes suck minerals from the ground, and both will occasionally (but not often) come to flowers.

Easiest way to tell them apart is if they are in your hand and you look at the tip of the abdomen, which is shaped differently (the males have a pair of "claspers" there). Sometimes you can see this in a live photo that shows the underside, but most often not; often you can see it in a shot of the underside of a pinned specimen.

 
Great information
I had always assumed that it was impossible to tell the difference between the sexes. Thanks for providing such detailed information!

Comment viewing options
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click 'Save settings' to activate your changes.