New Jersey Butterflies

Red-spotted Admiral

'Red-spotted Purple'

Limenitis arthemis astyanax

'White Admiral'

Limenitis arthemis arthemis

Identification: Large—3.2”. Above: FW black/midnight blue with small white spots—and usually a few red submarginal spots—near tip; HW mostly iridescent blue, darker toward the body. Both wings with pale blue spots along wing margins. 'White Admiral' adds a bright white band across both wings. Below: FW and HW reddish-black with iridescent blue highlights, each wing with pale blue and red-orange submarginal spotbands and a few red-orange spots near base. 'White Admiral' has bright white bands that mirror upperside.

NJ Status and Distribution: 'Red-spotted Purple': Resident. Fairly common and widespread. 'White Admiral': Resident? This northern form of Red-spotted Admiral has been reported from Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, and Morris counties, but not every year. Most observations are of single individuals.

NJ Range Map-Red-spotted Purple

'Red-spotted Purple'

NJ Range Map-White Admiral

'White Admiral'

Habitat: Open areas near woods. Likes to perch on bare ground of dirt roads and parking lots, but also on paved roads. 'Red-spotted Purple' rarely nectars but can be attracted to gardens with "bait" of overripe fruit.

Flight Period: Early May to late October with a peak in June and a smaller peak in late summer. Extreme dates for 'Red-spotted Purple': North Jersey 5/2—10/25; South Jersey 4/25—11/5. 'White Admiral' is very erratic.

Larval Food Plants: Mainly cherries such as Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), birches (Betula), willows (Salix), and poplars (Populus).

Overwintering Stage: Larva.

Best Locations: Delaware Water Gap NRA, Whittingham WMA, Wildcat Ridge WMA, Belleplain SF, Riverwinds Scenic Trail, Wheelabrator WR. Best chance of seeing a spectacular 'White Admiral' is by traveling some of the dirt roads in the Delaware Water Gap NRA.

Comments: Individuals with a variety of white spotting are intergrades with the more-northerly 'White Admiral' subspecies of Red-spotted Admiral. As with many species (especially anglewings and emperors), large numbers of 'Red-spotted Purples' can often be seen on roads for a day or two after emergence (which often follows a rain). However, most individuals then disperse into adjacent woodlands.



Red-spotted Purple

'Red-spotted Purple', Stokes SF, Sussex Co., NJ, 6/23/08.


Red-spotted Purple

'Red-spotted Purple', Walpack, Sussex Co., NJ, 7/18/10.


White Admiral

'White Admiral', Delaware Water Gap NRA (Mountain Rd.), Sussex Co., NJ, 6/19/05.


White Admiral

'White Admiral', Hiawatha SF, MI, 7/14/11.


Red-spotted Purple Larva

Early instar of Red-spotted Purple wrapped in a leaf of Purple Leaf Sand Cherry (Prunus x cistena)—a commonly planted ornamental shrub.


Red-spotted Purple Larva

Late instar of Red-spotted Purple.


Trembling Aspen

Leaves of Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides). This upland tree is one of many host plants for Compton Tortoiseshell, Mourning Cloak, and Red-spotted Purple.