Red-spotted mimic

Red-spotted Purple butterfly on a rock

Red-spotted Purple butterfly on a rock

I mentioned our walk at Little Mulberry Park in my last post. Near the lake we saw a cooperative Red-spotted Purple Butterfly (Limenitis arthemis) perched on a rock near the path. The blue-green iridescence near the back of the hindwing is very striking. This color, plus the red spots, make it likely that this species is a mimic of the Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor), which is very distasteful to birds. By looking like the distasteful species, the Red-spotted Purple gains a measure of protection from birds or other predators,

Note the extended proboscis

Note the extended proboscis

The underwing pattern is very different from the upper surface of the wing. This photograph also shows that this individual has extended its proboscis and is probing around on the surface of the rock, probably in search of the minerals needed in its diet.

Red-spotted Purple underwing pattern

Red-spotted Purple underwing pattern

This view from the side shows the red spots on the underwing, for which the species is named, and the extended proboscis. Notice also in this picture and the one above, the butterfly only appears to have four legs instead of the six legs it should have as an insect. In members of the Brushtail family (Nynphalidae), to which this butterfly belongs, the front pair of legs is smaller and is held close to the body. They are not seen in this photograph, hence the appearance of only four legs.

 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.