An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

White Admirals

Dirt roads, especially those near streams, are suddenly covered with White Admirals (Limenitis arthemis) – satiny black butterflies with a wide white band through both front and hind wings. Also known as Red-spotted Purples, these butterflies start life out as a caterpillar that strikingly resembles a bird dropping with “horns” – very effective mimicry that has undoubtedly saved many a White Admiral’s life. Both the larvae and the overwintering pupae can be found on willows, poplars and yellow birch. In early June the butterflies emerge from their silken hibernaculums, or chrysalises, which are located inside a rolled leaf. The diagnostic flight pattern of White Admirals – alternate flapping and gliding – and white wing bands allow quick identification.

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