The Red Spotted Purple And Friends

There is a new kid in town. Her name is Red Spotted Purple. Obviously she is an artistic type, with a jewel tone name such as that.

She was noticed recently hanging around the deck and gravel path after the afternoon container watering session. After several days of trying to capture her image so identification could be made, success was had. I followed her along the deck boards, getting as close as possible.

She was not amused by the crab walking human following her and walked off the deck edge onto the gravel path. Lucky for her it is only a six inch drop. The breeze nearly blew her away, but her sticky feet held fast to the stones.

Patience is its own reward. No, that’s not it. Patience is rewarded with a picture of wings outspread. That’s more like it. Then she had had enough and flew up to the slope.

The Red Spotted Purple is a species of North American brush-footed butterfly, common throughout much of the eastern United States. Limenitis arthemis astyanax has red spots on its underside and the top of the wings are notable for their iridescent blue markings. The Red-spotted Purple is a mimic of the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) and is typically found in open woodlands and along forest edges. The Pipevine is what we thought she was until the butterfly book was perused and the internet searched. Larval food includes wild cherry and birch, both abundant here. I learned something new today, for I had never even heard of this butterfly before.

It may be that she has been here for years and we mistook her for the dark form female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail which is common here. The cherry and birch trees have been eaten by many chompers for a long time. We will now look more kindly upon that vandalism.

There are some other friends that would like to be mentioned besides the swallowtails which get more than their share of blog glory. The sweet little hairstreaks are enjoying the garlic chive bloom season. We do not know which type of hairstreak it is. The maps of distribution indicate it could be Edwards or Banded but the markings do not exactly match either. Added: This has been identified as a Gray Hairstreak by good buddies Lisa Of Greenbow! and Randy of Randy And Meg’s Garden Paradise Thanks, my friends!

These darlings will often allow the camera lens to get up close and personal without batting an eyelash. Do they have eyelashes? Or eyelids?

Cosmic Orange Cosmos becomes you. Talk about a color echo!

Skippers abound. I love their jet-like wings and curly tongues.

Speaking in tongues, no, stop being silly, speaking of tongues, get a look at this one. The eye designs are very haute couture. Snout butterflies are easily recognized by their long projecting mouth parts (palpi) which resemble snouts. The Common Snout is the only one occurring north of Mexico. That makes identification easier! The larva feed on hackberries. Please eat them all!

Not everybody can be a movie star, but those of us who are a little plain have something to contribute as well. This duskywing is part of the skipper clan. We are not sure of its identification either, but welcome it with open arms.

We end the wildlife parade with a shot from about a month ago of the tall and stately Lilium ‘Black Beauty’ being visited by the hummingbird moth, aka the Common Clearwing. The whirring sound made as this pollinator flits from flower to flower is the stuff of daydreams.


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30 Responses to The Red Spotted Purple And Friends

  1. Randy Andrson says:

    Loved the pictures of the Red Spotted Purple. I usually see them puddling or high up in the trees out of camera range, just a black dot. Some people find them one of the most beautiful butterflies outside of the tropics. I’m one of them. They do nectar but have a passion for rotten fruit and dung piles. Thank you for your wonderful pictures.

    Oh Randy, I was hoping you would visit for I know you are an expert on the butterflies, thanks! I have not seen them on the flowers, and am not sure about dung piles here but rotten fruit, we gots! I am of the school that believes them to be the most beautiful as well. I was lucky that day. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    oooooooo Frances, nice photos of your visitors. Your hairstreat is a Gray Hairstreak. Such beautiful bugs.

    oooooo Lisa, I love a good ooooo! Thanks for that ID, my dear friend. I will add it to the post! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Carol says:

    How interesting! I’m enjoying all the butterflies around here and now am visualizing you like a “crab walking human”, stalking them through your garden. Good stalk, great pics!

    Hi Carol, thanks. It is a great year for butterflies so far, and we have several good pix in the files. Last year was very disappointing. I wonder if the wet summer last year affected the numbers? It is so dry here this time, maybe that is to their liking more. I was trying to stay very low to the deck while following her, it was an acrobatic miracle to do so. someone watching would have thought it quite amusing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Love the Red Spotted purples. I enjoy seeing the females lay eggs on the curly willow I have in the Mixed Border, a.k.a. Butterfly Garden. One day, I hope you can visit as I hope to see your garden one day. H.

    Hi Helen, thanks. We have curly willows, I will have to check for eggs! I would so love to see your garden, and for you to see mine. It’s a date! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Donna says:

    I am loving the pics on the butterflies. You get the most gorgeous shots and such a variety of color and form. I would not have an ID clue if any of them where to flit by. For that matter, I am still stuck with only cabbage whites. Bad year here in the falls. Thanks for the great images. It is the only way for me to see butterflies lately.

    Hi Donna, thanks. It has been a boutiful year for the butterflies , last year we hardly saw a one except for the cabbage whites. I have a little book to help with the ID, like the bird book only for butterflies. Then to the internet for more photos to make sure. Hope you get some late arrivals, we did last year when the asters were blooming. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. This was a perfect beginning of what promises to be a beautiful day. You have inspired me. I’m charging the camera batteries now.

    Hi Patsy, thanks and welcome. Glad to hear you will be out flitting with the flutterbys! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Eileen says:

    Great photos of some beautiful butterflies!


    Hi Eileen, thanks so much. They are truly beauties, all of them! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Jen says:

    Wonderful shots! Patience and persistence do pay off. I’ve never seen a snout like that. It’s got me wondering if we have them here. Thanks for sharing your special moment.

    Hi Jen, thanks. That is the first time I have seen a snout like that too, that I can remember anyway. It was on the tall lily stalk that was finished blooming, not on a flower. Walking around with the camera in hand sometimes leads to wonderful surprises. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Barbara H. says:

    Oh, what a joyful journey this morning, Frances. Here in NE Alabama I too am surrounded by butterflies this year, as well as lots of hummers. I don’t know if it’s just been a good year or if in my third year here I’ve hit the garden jackpot of having enough plants now to really draw them in. Whichever, it makes porch sitting a joy.

    Hi Barbara, thanks for joining me! I do believe having the garden plants that attract the butterflies helps, but we have good years and not so good even though the plants are here in abundance every year. It is joyful to watch them. I have seats placed in strategic locations for just that purpose. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Gail says:

    Frances, The Red Spotted Purple is a beauty. I’ve seen them on walks in the park and had to laugh at Randy’s comment~That’s exactly where I’ve seen them on rotten fruit and yes, poop. I love all the visitors, but for some reason they’ll been hyper-kinetic and refuse to pose~The hummingbird moth is a real treat~Thanks for a wonderful good morning~xxxgail

    Hi Gail, thanks. The Finanacier and I were just talking about the Red Spotted and what they like. We don’t have dung piles, Kitty is very fastidious about covering, but we do have rotting fruit, peaches and apples and plenty of tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. A nicer thought, right? I had seen the RSP a few times before and she was way too flitty to photograph. I believe it was some water left on the deck from my wild watering that attracted her. She was too thirsty to fly away, bless her heart. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Layanee says:

    I know how difficult it is to get a picture of a butterfly with her wings spread. Beautiful and I can just see you ‘crab walking’. Made me chuckle.

    Hi Layanee, thanks. It was tricky with this one since she was down on the ground and not at an eye level flower. You would have rolled on the ground laughing if you had seen me in action! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Randy says:


    Your hairstreak is the common gray hairstreak. Edwards and Banded are early summer single brooded hairstreaks and would not be possible this late in the year. I think the Gray hairstreak has 3-4 broods. My previos post has a photo of a Gray on melon flowers in our garden.

    Hi Randy, thanks. I will check that out. Lisa has helped with the ID as well. I will add you name and link! Do you know the duskywing?

  13. commonweeder says:

    What amazing photographs you get – of amazingly abundant and beautiful visitors to the garden. I’m sure everyone is tired of me complaining about the dearth of butterflies in my garden this year. Not even one nibble on my dill.

    Hi Pat, thanks. We have seen no catts on the fennel or dill either, but we have the butterflies so they are hatching from somewhere, thank goodness. Last year it was our turn to complain about the lack. May you get some late visitors! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Beautiful butterfly portraits Frances! I especially love the Hummingbird moth before your lily! Gorgeous. ;>)

    Hi Carol, thanks. That is the best shot I have ever gotten of the Hummer moth. Still not very clear but the lily blooms make up for it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Robin says:

    That is an amazing shot of the clearwing moth! I love it!
    I have been putting watermelon rind outside for the butterflies this summer and the red spotted purples were the main attraction. They are so pretty!

    Hi Robin, thanks. My photos are nowhere as wonderful as yours! I have tried putting bananas out in a dish like I saw at a Butterfly House. I think raccoons ate them! Glad to hear you have these beautiful visitors as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Valerie says:

    Great photos Frances…especially the red spotted purple. I had never seen one of those. Wow!

    Hi Valerie, thanks. I may have seen them and thought they were something else. Glad a photo was allowed to be taken so we could really identify her. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. nancybond says:

    What beautiful and amazing creatures.

    Hi Nancy, so nice to see you here, thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Darla says:

    INcredible captures here. We have all of these flitting around here too. I certainly cannot seem to get the fingers to work the camera fast enough while having solid footing.
    Oh, Ms. Frances, have you ever grown loofah sponges? I posted the ones Iโ€™m about to harvest today. Hopefully I will have plenty of seeds to share.
    Huh, we shall see about peeling them. I plan to take photos of the processโ€ฆkeep your fingers crossed. My daughterโ€™s friend in Daytona Beach sent me the seeds..she says itโ€™s easy peasyโ€ฆ

    Hi Darla, thanks so much, so nice to see you. There are plenty of missed opportunities here as well. I get lucky sometimes. I have grown the loofahs, my neighbor Mae gave me seeds when we first moved here. There was a good crop, but I never could get the skins, etc. off the gourds to use them. Do you know the secret? ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. You have probably answered this question before, so I apologize for making you repeat the answer: what is the name of your butterfly identification book?

    I don’t think I have, Kathy. It is a golden guide to Butterflies and Moths , a guide to the more common American species, almost a children’s book, 3 x 5 inches written by Robert T. Mitchell and Herbert Zim. But the info is good and for more info I go online. It shows most of the catts as well, which helps. I also have the same type book on Mushrooms and Fungi. I think these books came from the school somewhere.

  20. Lona says:

    Hi Frances. Your photos of the butterflies are so wonderful. The Red Spotted Purple is just gorgeous. I love the blue in the wings. The Hairstreak is a cutie too. Have a terrific weekend!

    Hi Lona, thanks. I love the RS Purple too. I believe it is the butterfly of my tattoo. Hope your weekend has been wonderful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Lola says:

    Love the pics of those beauties. Not any here. Spraying for mosquitoes does do harm to the many little critters we so enjoy.

    Thanks Lola. I am so sorry about the spraying. I know mosquitoes are bad and dangerous, but the loss of the other good guys is very tragic. I wish there was another solution.

  22. Rose says:

    The Red-spotted Purple is a beauty! I’ve never heard of these before either, and I doubt I’ve seen one. But I have seen several of the Gray Hairstreaks lately, although I mis-identified those. It’s been a banner year for butterflies, hasn’t it? I often find myself chasing butterflies with the camera instead of doing the garden chores I had intended to do:)

    Hi Rose, thanks. I don’t remember ever hearing that name before, but might have seen the Purple and mistaken it for the dark swallowtail. I have noticed it hanging around the deck everytime we water, everyday for the containers. I sray some extra on the gravel for it. Love those Hairstreaks, small but wonderful! It is too hot and dry for many chores recently, watching the butterflies has moved to top job on the list. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Hi Frances, the purple looks blue to me but that doesn’t matter–it’s gorgeous. I also LOVE that snout butterfly–such great fuzzy blackness. And the eyes–you captured them well! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Monica, thanks. I agree, and would have named it the Red Spotted Blue/Black. The camera sees things that I cannot, even with new glasses. It is always a surprise when the photos are loaded. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  25. Catherine says:

    You really get such a pretty variety in your yard! The red-spotted purple is so exotic looking. We really don’t get that many butterflies even though I plant all sorts of attractors. Right now the Skippers are everywhere though.

    Hi Catherine, thanks. This is a good butterfly year for some reason. Last year we didn’t have hardly any, even though we grew the same plants. I love the little skippers, they are more general feeders I believe. And there are so many different ones. We love them all! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. RobinL says:

    Ah Frances, I see we have the same friends! This summer has been a delight to me, with butterflies and moths of all kinds visiting me and my garden each day. My winged friends are soon to be featured on my blog too. Like minds!

    Hi Robin, how wonderful for you! This time of year, on into fall, the butterflies take center stage in the garden, no matter what is blooming. Nothing can compare to the flying flowers. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Cindy, MCOK says:

    I’ve never seen the curly proboscis on a Skipper before. How cool is that?

    Hi Cindy, thanks for visiting. I had never seen this butterfly before that I am aware of. Nature is remarkable! (So are digital cameras.) ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Tatyana says:

    Oh, the snout looks so dramatic! I like black! Haute couture for sure!

    Hi Tatyana, thanks for stopping by. The snout butterfly was unique! I thought it quite elegant. ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Meredehuit says:

    I’m smiling at the thought of your antics to get some of those shots! I’m so enjoying all the blotanist who are sharing their butterfly shots. I have had exactly one Tigertail grace my garden this year and lots of cabbage whites. But miracle of all miracles… the first Monarch to ever grace these gardens fluttered by several weeks ago. All I could do was hold my breath and stare… it was so amazingly beautiful.

    Hi Meredehuit, thanks. How exciting to get the Monarch visitor! We had nothing but the whites here last year until the very last gasps of the asters blooming in late fall. It is always awe inspiring to see them, especially the Monarchs. ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. sequoiagardens says:

    I wonder if African butterflies are faster than others? Or perhaps I am even clumsier than I thought. Bottom line is that I look like a manic clown when I try to photograph butterflies. Just having them in frame is an achievement, let alone in focus. Talk of the wild animals of Africa! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Hi Jack, I hear that! (A favorite saying around these parts!) I spend a great deal of time stalking the wild beasts, er butterflies with little success. Just yesterday a series of images of the Gulf fritillary was taken. Every image was blurry. Drat. I would love to see your butterflies. I imagine them to be very different from ours with the difference in native vegetation.

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