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Posts Tagged ‘Limenitis arthemis astyanax’

I spotted this beautiful Red-spotted Purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis astyanax) last Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. When I first saw it flying around, I thought it might be one of the many dark swallowtail species that we have in our area. When the butterfly finally landed, however, I could see that it had no “tails,” not because it was damaged, but simply because it is not a swallowtail butterfly.

The name of this species has always confused me a bit. When I look at the image below I can see some red spots, but for the life of me I don’t see anything that looks purple. Nonetheless, I love the varying shades of blue on the butterfly’s body and the little red accents.

Red-spotted Purple

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was thrilled on Monday to see lots of butterflies as I was exploring Occoquan Regional Park. Many of them were small skippers that skittishly flew away whenever I approached them. Only a few were large and colorful, like the Red-spotted Purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis) in the first photo. When it first landed on the plant, its wings were closed, but I waited and eventually the butterfly opened its wings. The damage to one of those wings this early in the season really emphasizes the fragility of these beautiful little creatures.

I also saw some brown woodland butterflies and I chased after several of them. I was out of breath but finally managed to catch up to one. Identification of this type of butterfly is always problematic, because there are quite a few similarly-colored species that vary only in the number and placement of the the eyespots. I think that the butterfly in the second shot is a Little Wood Satyr butterfly (Megisto cymela). I contemplated cropping closer, but decided I liked the little plant on the right side of the image and kept it. With this framing, I am able to create the illusion that the butterfly is staring at the plant.

Red-spotted Purple

Little Wood Satyr

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s always wonderful to see large colorful butterflies, like this Red-spotted Purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis astyanax) that I spotted last week at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. I don’t know about you, but I find the spots to be a bit more orange than red and the body looks more grayish-blue than purple. Maybe the people responsible for naming the species say it in a different light. 🙂

Red-spotted Purple

Red-spotted Purple

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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In the townhouse community in which I live in Northern Virginia, many of us have crabapple trees in our front yards, and the fallen crabapples are a nuisance at this time of the year. However, they do provide food for certain butterflies that prefer rotten fruit to flower nectar, like this Red-spotted Purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis astyanax) that I photographed this morning.

crabapple2_blogcrabapple_blog© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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