Red-spotted Purple

Red-spotted Purple

A full wing view of the Red-spotted Purple, taken at Elk Forest.

The Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) is a large and very brightly colored butterfly that can be found across the state of Maryland.

I have encountered the Red-spotted Purple most often in wooded areas and forests. It flies quickly and will range high in its flight, but also may land on the ground at times. It rests with its wings spread and can give terrific opportunity for photos.

Red-spotted with wings closed

The Red-spotted Purple has markings similar to that of the Pipevine Swallowtail.

I have not seen a White Admiral in Maryland yet, but I have read that the two butterflies are considered to be the same species, just with drastic variations in markings. A cross species between the two is also well-known; it features a dark purple wing color with the red and white markings along the edges of its wing, like that of the White Admiral. 

From a closed wing position, the Red-spotted Purple has very similar markings to the dark swallowtails also found in its areas, particularly the Pipevine Swallowtail.

The Red-spotted Purple has a bouncy flight path, and it will fly very close, if not, right at your face.

Its bright blue wing color is very easy to pick up in flight, and its color – coupled with its size – makes it an easy spot along any path.

I have photographed this species at Elk Forest, Frederick State Park, Blackwater, Eastern Neck and Sideling Hill.

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