For The Love Of A Butterfly

I took the following photos of this Red-Spotted Purple butterfly (aka Limenitis arthemis) in May. It was spotted stuck in this large folded up cage, in my back yard, by my daughter who was taking care of her rabbits. Evidently, this Red-Spotted Purple butterfly had pupated into its chrysalis stage in the closed up cage and emerged now stuck in the cage. I don't know how long it had been stuck in there but I did know that we had to save it!


It is possible that this was a caterpillar that hibernated over Winter and emerged from its shelter in Spring to finish growing and then, unknowingly, crawled inside the cage to form its chrysalis.


My daughter called me outside and we looked over the situation to decide our next course of action. The cage was completely closed and tied shut but was one that she wasn't planning on keeping anyway which made our decision an easy one. I went inside to grab the one and only tool that we would need to free the Red-Spotted Purple.


Just a few snips then we had to carefully and gently guide it towards the narrow opening and not further into the cage.


The Red-Spotted Purple butterfly is an interesting butterfly besides being able to hibernate as a caterpillar or in a chrysalis. Although it can get nectar from flowers, it would rather drink tree sap, as well as juices from rotting fruit, dung and carrion. They can also often be found drinking from mud puddles.


Regardless, there is no denying the prettiness of the Red-Spotted Purple!


Once we had released the butterfly from its self imprisonment it stuck around on the outside of the cage. I was able to get quite a few nice photos.


The wing span of a Red-spotted Purple can be up to four inches and I would estimate that this one was about three inches. Wing size is, usually, an indication of the sex of a Red-spotted Purple as a female is larger than a male so this one could very well be a female Red-spotted Purple butterfly.


You may be thinking that this particular butterfly does not look purple and the spots on it look more orange than red. I totally agree but (hey) I didn't name it ... lol. It is a bit of a flying misnomer as I would not consider the name of this butterfly to be quite accurate but sometimes when you see one in sunlight you can spy some purple in the iridescence on the wings.


The Red-Spotted Purple stayed a little while in mostly the same spot before flying off. It may have been tired from trying to find its way out or maybe it felt relieved and at ease enough to stay as long as it did. Perhaps, it is just a 'chill' kind of butterfly as one did land on my finger once and even stayed there briefly.


I'm thankful that my daughter saw it when she did and as I stood over the pretty butterfly taking my last few photos, I couldn't help but smile at being able to help rescue it. Just as it seemed in my first photo that the Red-Spotted Purple was asking for ''help'', it seemed like in my last photo that it was saying ''thank you"! 💖


All photos and text by me @deerjay. All rights reserved.


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