This rather tattered Red-Spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax) butterfly was nectaring on a native clematis vine known as Virgin’s Bower (Clematis Virginiana). The clematis grows beautifully in a partially shaded fence on the west side of our swimming pool, and very adequately provides privacy in that corner. See also Virgin’s Bower (Clematis virginiana) Pollinator Magnet
While researching the Red-Spotted Purple, I learned that they are a woodland butterfly. In our yard they would like Black Cherry (Prunus srotina), Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa), Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli), American Basswood (Tilia americana) and White Birch (Betula pubescens) as their host plants. But in the neighborhood, they have their pick of Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica) and Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) as well. As adults they will nectar on small white flowers, hence this one’s timeout on the Virgin’s Bower.
When I first spotted this lovely creature, I thought it was a female black Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, but it did not have the distinctive tail of the swallowtail butterfly. The Red-Spotted Purple ranges from Alaska southeast of the Rockies into Central Texas, and east to New England and South to Florida.
Descriptions below were taken from University of Florida Entomology & Nematology. Click on the photos to enlarge.
Thanks Doug Tallamy for his assistance in identifying this beautiful creature.