Arizona Red Spotted Purple

Limenitis arthemis arizonensis

Photo by Mike Plagens

This butterfly was photographed along Sycamore Creek, Mazatzal Mountains, Maricopa Co., Arizona and is also hosted at Wikimedia. 13 Apr. 2008.

This is a butterfly of riparian corridors in the Sonoran Desert where its required food plants, willows and cottonwoods, are found. It closely resembles the Pipevine Swallowtail -- Battus philenor. This is an example of mimicry because the swallowtail is noxious for birds to eat and so the similar-looking Red Spotted Purple is left alone by the birds as well.

The caterpillar uses yet another trick to avoid being eaten. It looks like some sort of objectionable waste material - bird feces perhaps -- a disguise.

Nymphalidae -- Brush-footed Butterfly Family

More Information:

Photo by Mike Plagens

This caterpillar was disturbed by the photographer and so took on this peculiar position. Tail up and head cocked downward. This ruse may work to help the larva survive and become the butterfly. The image is hosted at Wikimedia.

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 12 Apr. 2008,
updated 7 Jan. 2020.