white admiral

(Limenitis arthemis arthemis)

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure


not listed

white admiral

White admiral is a large brush-footed butterfly with a 3 to 3½ wingspan. The male and female are identical in appearance but the female is slightly larger than the male.

The upperside of both wings is dark bluish-black with a broad, white, postmedial band. The forewing is rounded at the tip. It has a few white spots near the apex and a row of light blue, crescent-shaped, marginal spots. The hindwing has a row of reddish-orange submarginal spots and two rows of light blue, crescent-shaped, marginal spots.

The underside of both wings is dark brown with the white band, submarginal spots, and subapical spots carried through from the upperside. Both wings also have orangish-red and blue spots near the leading edge and two rows of light blue, crescent-shaped, marginal spots.

The caterpillar is up to 2 long. It is a bird dropping mimic. The thorax and abdomen are mottled medium and dark olive green. A pair of long, black, spiny, branched projections (scoli) extend over the head from a hump on the second thoracic segment. There is a pair of large, greenish-yellow humps on the on the upper (dorsal) side of the second abdominal segment. Each hump is tipped with a small cluster of short white spines. There are similar, smaller humps on the seventh and eighth abdominal segments. A white subspiracular stripe extends from the second to the last abdominal segment. A white “saddle” on the dorsal surface from the fourth through sixth abdominal segments extends down the sides near the middle and merges with the subspiracular stripe. The head is brown and has a pair of short, brown scoli. The prolegs are brown.

Mature caterpillars are found from late May onward.



3 to 3½ wingspan


Similar Species

No similar species

Forest edges and openings of deciduous broad-leaf forests and or mixed evergreen forests dominated by aspen or birch; roadsides, trails.



Two broods: Late May to August; and a partial generation August to early September



Adult butterflies are often seen sunning themselves on gravel roads.


Life Cycle

In the fall the third stage caterpillar of the second brood forms a shelter (hibernaculum) by rolling a leaf and tying it with silk. It overwinters in the hibernaculum.

The range of this subspecies overlaps that of the red-spotted purple in the lower third of the state. Where the ranges overlap the subspecies interbreed and produce offspring with intergrading characteristics.


Larva Hosts

Usually leaves of birch, willow, quaking aspen, and chokecherry, but also American basswood, plains cottonwood, hawthorn, oak, serviceberry, and other trees.


Adult Food

Sap flows, rotting fruit, aphid honeydew, carrion, dung; rarely flower nectar.


Distribution Map



7, 21, 24, 29, 30, 82.

This map includes sightings of the hybrid white admiral × red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis arthemis × astyanax) in southeastern Minnesota from iNaturalist.org.






Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)


Papilionoidea (butterflies)


Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies)


Limenitidinae (admirals and allies)




Limenitidina (admirals)




Limenitis arthemis (red-spotted admiral)


Subordinate Taxa




Basilarchia arthemis arthemis


Common Names

white admiral











A structure where an animal or insect hibernates in the winter.



A fleshy structure on the abdomen of some insect larvae that functions as a leg, but lacks the five segments of a true insect leg.



The life stage of some insects undergoing transformation. In caterpillars, the chrysalis.



A spiny, branched projection from a larval body wall, the branches terminating with a single stiff, hair-like or bristle-like tip.



A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like structure on butterflies and moths used to sense touch. Plural: setae.



A small opening on the surface of an insect through which the insect breathes.






Visitor Photos

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Bobbi Johnson

white admiral  


Beulah Morrison

white admiral   white admiral

Came across this little beauty on what should have been my sons 30th birthday! So special.

white admiral    

Amanda Thelen

white admiral   white admiral

Bill Reynolds

white admiral    
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
white admiral   white admiral
white admiral   white admiral
white admiral    




White Admiral

White Admiral

Copyright DianesDigitals

White Admiral Butterfly
Andree Reno Sanborn

White Admiral Butterfly



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos

White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis)


Published on Jul 12, 2013

In this video, a white admiral (Limenitis arthemis arthemis) is shown moving from flower to flower in a long meadow. This video was recorded on July 3, 2013 just within the White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire.

White Admiral Butterfly (Nymphalidae: Limenitis arthemis) on Walkway
Carl Barrentine


Uploaded on Jul 3, 2011

Photographed at Nisswa, Minnesota (01 July 2010).

White Admiral (Nymphalidae: Limenitis arthemis) on Leaf
Carl Barrentine


Uploaded on Aug 7, 2010

Photographed at Itasca State Park, Minnesota (06 August 2010).



Visitor Sightings

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Jon Jasinski

Location: Paradise, Michigan

This is the first time in many years that we have seen these.   There is a lot of them too.

Patty Kenyon

Location: Voyageurs National Park


Beulah Morrison

Location: Melrose Hill, Hays River Road, Cape Breton Island NS

Came across this little beauty on what should have been my sons 30th birthday! So special.

white admiral
Michelle Strand

Location: Crystal MN

Landed on my bench on my deck.

Chris Walker

Location: Tamarac

I grew up in  lower Michigan, where we don’t have white admirals, but knew Weidemeyer's admiral from working in New Mexico -- so at first glance I thought it was Weidemeyer's admiral, and thought “how big is their range?!?!” But I’m better now, lol...

MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings






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