I found your website while searching for a caterpillar ID, and just spent 2 hours enjoying all your wonderful photos and comments! I found this bird-dropping mimic on a weed in my garden which *might* be a wild cherry since I have a large one in my yard. I am not sure though because the plant is only 10 inches tall! Sadly the next day the caterpillar was gone. I live in Northern Virginia. I think it is a red-spotted purple, what do you think? Thanks for looking at my critter and for having such an awesome site!
The Red-Spotted Purple, Limenitis arthemis astyanax, and the White Admiral, Limenitis arthemis arthemis, are subspecies with different ranges that overlap. According to BugGuide: “White Admiral ( Limentis arthemis form arthemis ) – the northern form, basically black and white in the east, In the west specimens tend to have red spots on the hind wing and are called Western White Admirals ( Limentis arthemis form rubrofasciata ). In the SE USA and as far north as extreme southern Ontario this species is black and purple (no white band)and is called Red-Spotted Purple ( Limentis arthemis form astyanax ). As there 3 forms are regarded as being the same species, intergrades between them are quite common.” Since you have graciously provided us with a location, we can presume you do have the southern Red-Spotted Purple. Thank you for sending in a new caterpillar for our site.