Red-spotted Purple Butterfly – Limenitis arthemis

Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly – Limenitis arthemis
Live adult butterflies photographed at Winfield, Illinois
Subfamily: Limenitidinae – Admirals
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Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly
Red-spotted purple shares a meal of coyote scat with halictid bee.

On a hot spring day at Castle Rock State Park near Oregon, Illinois, I came upon this somewhat-tattered red-spotted purple taking sustenance from a pile of fresh coyote scat consisting mostly of undigestible hair and sinew. She was sharing her bounty with a small green halictid bee. I believe both were imbibing via their respective proboscides what is technically called poop-water.

I most often find the red-spotted purple patrolling the edges of forest clearings and perching on low branches or on the ground.  RSPs obtain moisture and food from scat or moist soil or damp, soft rocks like sandstone or limestone. It is thought the RSP is a mimic of the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor), and hence gains protection from predacious birds.

Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly
Life Cycle: Caterpillar is humped, cream-colored, with dark-colored saddle. Two conspicuous brushlike bristles behind the head. Willows, aspens, poplars, cherry, hawthorns, apples and hornbeams are host plants. Habitat: woodlands, forests, glades and clearings, roads, paths & shorelines.
Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly
Tiny halictid bee with a loaded pollen basket takes a momentary rest on this RSP's wing.
Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly wing
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Order Lepidoptera, which contains both butterflies and moths, includes at least 125,000 known species including 12,000 in North America. Butterflies are revered for their brightly colored wings and pleasing association with fair weather and flowers.
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