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Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

Posted on Sep 4, 2016

Even as we enter September there are still plenty of beautiful butterflies on the wing like this Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) photographed yesterday. It has some wear and tear, and it is a bit faded, but the exquisite design still shines brightly on a gray day. Take a look at all the shots it allowed me to capture while nectaring on this butterfly bush.

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) butterfly-3940

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) butterfly-3934

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) butterfly-3926

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) butterfly-3915

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) butterfly-3896

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) butterfly-3842

You can see there are rips on the wings with the edges have been worn away, but what is most striking to me is how those wings still reflect and change light. The colors appear to be duller, bolder, brighter, darker, more vibrant or subdued depending on the different angle of photography. Time – a comparatively short span in human terms, likely a week or two – has taken its toll on this individual. Nevertheless, the iridescent craftsmanship that helps it to mimic the toxic Pipevine Swallowtail really stands out in the right light despite the overcast conditions. If you were a predator would you risk devouring this snack with the chance it might be toxic? They might wonder if this is a Pipevine that has lost some of its luster…and that is one dangerous meal.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator