The White Admiral butterfly, Limenitis arthemis, is a species of butterfly that is native to North America. They are found across Canada, and are the (unofficial) provincial butterfly of Quebec. They are recognizable by the distinctive white bar on the wings, with black margins and red spots on the undersides. The wingspan of this butterfly ranges from 2.5 to 3 inches, making it a medium-sized species.
They have a cousin species (not found in K-Country) that is one of nature’s best mimics. It has evolved past the white wing bars, to instead look like a different species of butterfly entirely, in order to reduce predation.
The White Admiral butterfly is a species that feeds on nectar from most any flower in K-Country, including Fireweed, violets, and orchids. Studies show they prefer white flowers. It is also attracted to rotting fruit, which can be found in abundance in the forests of K-Country. Find them on Shepherdia bushes in late July.
Admirals are active during the day and are most often seen in the afternoon when the sun is shining. They often bask in the sun, either on the ground or on the tops of trees. Unless they are going high to get the sun, they are rarely found more than 2-3’ above the ground.
Butterflies that fight?
The males are actually quite territorial. They tend to sit on the ground in the sun until another male comes along. Then they “combat” for up to 5 minutes. After the “fight”, the winner then patrols the territory to check for other males moving in.
You’ll mostly see White Admirals during the summer months, in forests and wooded areas. During this time, the butterfly is most active and its stunning colors are easiest to see. They especially like deciduous forests, so look for them where there are lots of poplar and aspen trees. Their caterpillars are perfectly camouflaged, and look just like bits of twigs. They feed on the leaves of deciduous trees, plus willows. Unlike Mourning Cloaks, White Admirals overwinter as caterpillars in silky hibernacula.
Meet more of the other critters of K-Country here!