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.

This is a butterfly of riparian corridors in Arizona, including Sycamore Woodlands. It's required food plants are willows and cottonwoods which typically grow in the same habitat as Arizona Sycamore. Red-spotted Purple closely resembles the Pipevine Swallowtail -- Battus philenor - and the two butterflies very often occur together. 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 material - bird feces maybe -- a disguise.

Nymphalidae -- Brush-footed Butterfly Family

More Information:

larva of Limenitis arthemis arizonensis photo by Mike Plagens

This caterpillar was disturbed by the photographer and so took on this defensive 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.

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Arizona Naturalist
Sycamore Canyons
Invertebrates in Arizona's Sycamore Canyons


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2010