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Posts Tagged ‘Red-spotted Purple’

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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The leaves are speckled with blemishes and the Red-spotted Purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis) is faded and tattered, but there is real beauty in the imperfection of autumn. Photographed this past weekend at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Red-spotted Purple

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am not sure why, but this Red-spotted Purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis) decided to perch upside-down in the vegetation when I accidently spooked it recently at Jackson Miles Abbot Wetlands Refuge.
Please don’t ask me why “purple” is part of the butterfly’s name—I don’t see any purple either and for that matter,
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reservedthe red doesn’t really look like spots either. Who makes up these names anyways?
Red-spotted Purple
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Summer is not over yet. Sure, Labor Day has come and gone and school buses now clog my morning commute. In the elevator yesterday, I heard two ladies discussing whether they could still wear a white skirt to work. Leaves are starting to fall from the trees and are changing colors.

Despite these signs, I still defiantly proclaim that summer is not finished as long as I continue to see beautiful butterflies, like this Red-spotted Purple butterfly (Limenitis arthemis) that I spotted last Friday at my local marsh. The wooden board on which it is perched is not exactly photogenic, but I can’t complain too much, since these butterflies also have a fondness for rotting fruit and animal dung.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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