Basilarchia arthemis astanax
Habitat: Open woodland and forest edges
Named for its iridescent blue wings adorned with brilliant orange-red markings, the red-spotted purple is one of the most attractive North American butterflies. Common throughout most of the eastern U.S., the red-spotted purple is a familiar sight in open woodlands and along forest edges where it is often mistaken for the toxic pipevine swallowtail by inexperienced naturalists and searching predators. The males aggressively defend territories and readily dart out from their overhanging perches to chase passing objects. The butterfly occasionally visits flowers, but like many of its relatives in the brush-footed family, is
more strongly attracted to rotting fruit, animal dung and moist earth.
Garden Abundance: Occasional
Wingspan: 3.0 to 3.8in
Larval Host Plants: Wild cherry (Prunus serotina) and many other kinds of trees and shrubs including
wild cherry, apple (Malus spp.), pear (Pyrus spp.), hawthorn (Crataegus
spp.), deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum), and hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
Favorite Adult Nectar Sources: Prefers rotting fruit, sap, carrion and animal dung over most flower nectar. Will occasionally visit flowers such as butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) and pentas (Pentas lanceolata).
The larvae are
mottled cream and brown, and closely resemble
bird droppings. They feed on a variety of trees and shrubs.
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