Red Spotted Purple Butterfly (Limenitis arthemis astyanax)
- Family: Brush-footed Butterfly (Nymphalidae)
- Subfamily: Admiral and Relative (Limenitidinae)
- Average Wingspan: 2 1/4″ – 4″
- Habitat: Wooded areas, forests
On an overcast day wings spread the Red Spotted Purple Butterfly will appear to be black with blue or turquoise on the the lower portion of the wings. It is in the bright sunlight that you see the spectacular transition of dark to bright blue with each pulse of it’s opening wings. Large orange spot are vibrant against a purplish back background when wing are closed and seen in profile. The males are territorial and will put on a spectacular display to secure an area. Both sexes of this species are identical except that the females are slightly larger than the males. There is a wide variation of the open wing color in this species from black with bright blue to brown with turquoise. The Red-spotted Purple Butterfly is close in appearance to the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) which is typically found in open woodlands and along forest edges. I have to this date not seen a Pipevine Swallowtail in Hot Springs National Park.
In the park a favored area of these Butterflies is at the base of North Mountain from the Floral Trail to the cold water fountain at the foot of the entrance to Hot Springs Mountain Road. Best time for sighting in the park is late spring to early autumn from dawn to dusk. Red Spotted Purple Butterflies are always a glorious sight, the jewels of the Forest. It is always a joy to find one warming itself in the sunlight.