Four species of Sister butterflies (Genus Adelpha) are documented in the United States. The three pictures presented here show they have a very similar look and are only separated by a few geographical differences.
The Arizona Sister, for example, is common in the Southwest into Texas.
The Band-celled Sister lacks some of the colorful pizazz on the top of the wings. It’s range is limited to South Texas.
No surprise that the California Sister has a range in California to Oregon. The top view of the wings is similar to the Arizona Sister. The side view of the wings as presented in the picture shows an even more colorful and intricate wing pattern.
Oaks are the larval host plant so they can be found in older oak groves and mixed forests.
There’s no doubt about it. The Admiral butterflies often referred to as the White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis) has a complicated story. With the exception of the West Coast and parts of the Rocky Mountains, it’s the most widely distributed of the Admiral Species.
There are also many subspecies and generally they take on four different looks in their wings. The picture in the top of the page shows the more Western species with the orange spots on the bottom of the wings and the double dashed lines.
In the Northeast the butterfly looks very different and gets the name Red-spotted Purple Admiral. The red spots on the edges of the top wings give the butterfly a different look. It also somewhat resembles a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly with the two shades of purple/blue on the wings.
They are very common in the Northeast. New York recently named it the official state butterfly.
Lorquin’s Admirals are the West Coast admiral butterfly species. The mustard color in the wings makes it fairly easy to identify.
Note the linear placement of the mustard color in the wings compared with the circular mustard color in the wings of the California Sister.
Weidemeyer’s Admirals are the Rocky Mountains admiral butterflies. There is some spillover into the Midwest. The dark wings covered with white patches makes it another easy to identify butterfly species.
One look at the picture of the Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) suggests it is out of place and belongs in the Milkweed family with the Monarchs, Queens and Soldiers.
it’s actually a mimic of those species it and has a more similar behavioral lifestyle with the Admirals. For example, the larvae feed on Willows, not milkweed. The caterpillars look completely different from the milkweed butterfly caterpillars.
With the exception of California, they are a fairly widespread species, although populations might not be as high as with other butterfly species.