This great butterfly, often almost three and a half inches in wingspread, has brilliant red spots glowing on its underwings against a delicate Japanese blue color so strangely lovely that the design looks almost like a scene from fairyland. In spite of its exquisite beauty, it likes to alight on such dirty things as dog dung and other manure or decaying material left along a roadway. It may even drink the juices of rotting animal bodies, as it is frequently found upon them, apparently thoroughly enjoying itself.
The Red-spotted Purple is found from central New England west to Nebraska and then south to Texas and Florida. On its northern boundary, it cross-breeds with the similar White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis), producing several unusual hybrids, with mixed colors. The typical Red-spotted Purple soars majestically along the edges of woods or where the forest is scrubby and open, but when carrion or other rotting material is fund, dozens of these beautiful butterflies may gather at this “delightful” mean.
The gray and brown colored caterpillar looks something like a two-horned monster, for it has a great hump behind its head from which stick out two long brown hairy tubercles that must be useful in frightening away birds. It feeds on willows, poplars, plum, quince, cherry, hornbeam, hawthorn, and similar plants.