Red-spotted perfection

June 17, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

At first glance, I was sorely tempted to dismiss this little gem as yet another Spicebush Swallowtail, the butterfly species that seems to be dominant right about now. But I was at the summit of Lantern Hill, and the exposed rocks of the highest part of the "peak"—it's a hill, not a mountain—have, at times, played host to Black Swallowtails. I hadn't seen any this year, so I thought I'd better err on the side of caution and wait for the butterfly to come to rest and reveal its identity. Patience is sometimes rewarded, but when the mystery lepidopteran stretched out on a Chestnut Oak leaf, I realized that it was neither of the expected swallowtails. Rather, it was a marginally similar—think swallowtail without the tail—rather distant cousin called a Red-spotted Purple. How some biologist decided this was a good common name is pretty darn obvious.


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