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Species Limenitis arthemis - White Admiral/Western White Admiral/Red-spotted Purple - Hodges#4522

Red-spotted Purple - Limenitis arthemis Red Spotted Purple Chrysalis - Frass? - Limenitis arthemis Limenitis arthemis red-spotted purple - Limenitis arthemis red-spotted purple - Limenitis arthemis Limenitis arthemis ? - Limenitis arthemis Limenitis arthemis Pennsylvania Pupa - Limenitis arthemis
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
Family Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Subfamily Limenitidinae (Admirals, Sisters)
Tribe Limenitidini (Admirals, Sisters and Sailors)
Genus Limenitis (Admirals & Viceroy)
Species arthemis (White Admiral/Western White Admiral/Red-spotted Purple - Hodges#4522)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
"Red-spotted admiral" (combination name)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Papilio Nymphalis Phaleratus Arthemis Drury, 1773. Type locality: New York
Papilio Nymphalis Lamina Fabricius, 1793. Type locality: "Indiis" [perhaps New York??]
Nymphalis lamina (Fabricius) Godman, 1810
Limenitis arthemis (Drury) Say, 1825
Nymphalis arthemis (Drury) Boisduval & LeConte, 1833
Nymphalis (Limenitis) arthemis (Drury) Westwood, 1837
Basilarchia arthemis (Drury) Scudder, 1872
Limenitis ursula var. arthemis (Drury) Hulst, 1883
Explanation of Names
See below for explanation of common names of the three forms.
three forms (not subspecies, apparently)--see below
75-101 mm wingspan (1)
In the West (mostly in Canada and Alaska), specimens tend to have orange spots on the hind wing above, more extensive orange below, and are called Western White Admirals (Limentis arthemis subspecies rubrofasciata):
Northeastern populations (mostly in Canada and mountain populations in ne. U.S.) may be very similar, but a name isn't agreed on yet (are they the same as rubrofasciata; or, should they have their own name?):
In the northeast U.S. and a little in southeast Canada is found the "typical" White Admiral (Limentis arthemis subspecies arthemis) - basically black and white with lots of blue, darker and less orange below, with little or no orange above:
In the Southeast United States and as far north as extreme southern Ontario is the Red-Spotted Purple (Limentis arthemis subspecies astyanax); mostly near black with no white band, with lots of blue (sometimes it looks a little purple, sometimes greenish), and with orange spots:
These races are regarded as being the same species, and intergrades between them are quite common. In fact the subspecies arthemis could be interpretted as being intermediate between subspecies rubrofasciata and astyanax.
In the Southwest there are also Red-spotted Purples, slightly different from the eastern ones, that are called subspecies arizonensis. Eastern and western Red-spotted Purples are thought to be isolated from each other by a strip of arid country that neither can inhabit (but is this true?):

Red-Spotted Purples mimic the Pipevine Swallowtails, but the hind wings lack the tails and Pipevine Swallowtails lacks spots at wing base. Compare Pipevine Swallowtail:
See map for range of each form:
Larvae feed on cherry, willow, birch and some other trees and shrubs. Adults will take moisture from mud puddles, rotten fruit and animal feces.
Comments from Robin McLeod, 10 November, 2005, on subspecies with links can be found here.
See Also
Pipevine Swallowtail - Battus philenor
Print References
Glassberg, Minno & Calhoun p. 96 (2)
Minno, Butler & Hall pp. 112, 183 (3)
Opler, pp. 278-279 & plate 24 (1)
Internet References
Type illustration and description of Drury in llustrations of Natural History, 1773, [see page 17 & plate X]
Many more photographs at Butterflies of North America
Works Cited
1.A Field Guide to Eastern Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides)
Paul A. Opler, Vichai Malikul, Roger Tory Peterson. 1992. Houghton Mifflin Company.
2.Butterflies Through Binoculars: The East
Jeffrey Glassberg. 1999. Oxford University Press.
3.Florida Butterfly Caterpillars And Their Host Plants
Marc C. Minno, JERRY F. BUTLER, DONALD W. HALL. 2005. University Press Florida.