Red-spotted Purple butterflies are found in all states east of the Continental Divide, Arizona, New Mexico, and Montana. Sporting orange spots and a metallic blue color, many people wonder how it obtained the name “Red-spotted Purple”.
Red-spotted Purple butterflies host on several shrubs and trees, including wild cherry (Prunus), deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum), willows (Salix), basswood (Tilia), oaks (Quercus), hawthorn (Crataegus), aspen, poplar, cottonwood (Populus), birch (Betula), and shadbush (Amelanchier). We have raised them on black cherry, willow, and deerberry.
Females land on a leaf, back down the leaf, and lay an egg on the tip of the leaf.
Young caterpillars hatch and extend the leaf vein by sewing bits of frass together to make a firm strand outward. They make a small ball of bits of leaves and sew them onto the leaf.
Caterpillars greatly resemble Viceroy butterfly caterpillars. Viceroy caterpillars have spikes on their humps and the set of spines on their thoraxes are slightly shorter than those of Viceroy caterpillars.
Red-spotted Purple caterpillars attach and hand in a J before pupating.
After nearly a day, it pupates into a brown chrysalis.
Adult butterflies emerge from one to two weeks after pupating, depending on the temperature.
Male butterflies drink from dung, carrion, and soil to obtain salts and nutrients. This male found the moisture on the outside of a fertilizer bag to fit his needs.
Red-spotted Purple butterflies overwinter as young caterpillars. They sew a leaf of their host plant to the stem. Using silk, they roll it into a tight tube. The caterpillar overwinters in the tube/hibernaculum, emerging in the spring when new leaves are growing.