White Admiral

Limenitis arthemis arthemis

This a basically a dark butterfly with wide white bands through each wing, which makes it a very unique looking butterfly and one of the easiest butterflies to identify. This subspecies is mainly a northern butterfly, while the Red-spotted Purple is a southern species. Nevertheless, the White Admiral has been found as far south as Illinois. It is fairly common in central Wisconsin, but I was amazed to find it in abundance in Douglas County, far greater than I expected, with easily over one hundred seen in a single day. Most of these were seen getting nutrients on dung.

Weekly sightings for White Admiral

Identifying characteristics

Above, the White Admiral is black with wide, white stripes through the middle of both wings, red and blue submarginal spots, and a few white spots near the apex. Below, this butterfly is very similar to the upper surface, with the wide white band through the center of both wings being the most easily seen characteristic.

Similar species

None in Wisconsin.


Forest edges and openings, and roadsides and trails through wooded areas.


Two broods. Late May through July and then late July into August.


In the northern counties this species may become very common, and I have observed more than 100 of this subspecies in a single day.

Early White Admiral Sightings

Date County Reported by
May 17, 2011 Wood Ron Arnold
May 19, 2012 Jackson Southern Wisconsin But...
May 21, 2012 Burnett K. Java
May 24, 2012 Marathon Mary Backus
May 25, 2012 Jackson Jeanette Klodzen


Map showing sighting locations for White Admiral
Map key
White AdmiralClick to enlarge

On scat

Douglas Co., WI, August 4, 2005.

White AdmiralClick to enlarge

White admiral, white admiral/red-spotted purple hybrid, and a viceroy.

Sandhill Wildlife Area, Wood Co., WI, July 21, 2005.