I most often find the red-spotted purple patrolling the edges of forest clearings and perching on low branches or on the ground. They seem particularly fond of the limestone scaling of the Illinois Prairie Path. I'm thinking this is one way they secure moisture or minerals. The Red-spotted Purple is a mimic of the poisonous Pipe vine Swallowtail (Batters philander), and hence gains protection from mendacious birds. It is thought the red-spotted purple hybridizes with the white admiral butterfly to produce partially banded offspring. Many epidemiologists consider the two to be one species.
Life Cycle: Caterpillar is humped, cream-colored, with dark-colored saddle. Two conspicuous brush like bristles behind the head. Willows, aspens, poplars, cherry, hawthorns, apples and horn beams are host plants. Habitat: Woodlands, open forests, glades and clearings, roads, paths and shorelines.
Butterflies have been revered by mankind since before the dawn of recorded history. They are among the most fascinating and beautiful animals; even people who care not for insects in general usually have an affection for these winged wonders. They live nearly everywhere -- from gardens and forests and mountains to acid bogs and frozen arctic tundra. Almost 700 of the world's 10 - 20,000 species live in North America north of Mexico.