Red Admiral

Red Admirable

Vanessa atalanta

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The Red Admiral is a well-known, medium-sized butterfly with striking black, red, and white patterns. It is migratory in nature and is renowned for its strong flight and distinct coloration.

Red Admiral

Common Name
Red Admiral

Other Names

Red Admirable

Latin Name

Vanessa atalanta

Distribution

This butterfly is found in temperate regions of North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It’s especially common across Europe and the British Isles.

Appearance

The Red Admiral has a dark black-brown base color on the upper side of its wings with distinctive red-orange bands running horizontally across the forewings and around the edge of the hindwings. There are also small white spots on the tips of the forewings.

Size

The wingspan of the Red Admiral typically ranges between 45 to 50 mm. The caterpillar can reach lengths of about 40 mm.

Habitat

Red Admirals prefer a variety of habitats, including gardens, woodlands, meadows, parks, and other areas where nettle (their primary caterpillar food source) grows.

Diet

The caterpillar primarily feeds on nettles (Urtica dioica and Urtica urens). Adult butterflies are attracted to a variety of flowers, but they particularly prefer nectaring from buddleia, dandelions, asters, and overripe fruit.

Lifecycle

Following the general butterfly lifecycle, it undergoes four stages: egg → caterpillar (larva) → chrysalis (pupa) → adult butterfly.

Defense Mechanisms

The caterpillar’s primary defense is its cryptic coloration, which helps it blend in with the stems and leaves of nettles. Additionally, it constructs a shelter by folding a nettle leaf and securing it with silk, which provides some protection against predators. The adult butterfly’s contrasting colors can act as a warning or distraction to potential predators. Additionally, its erratic flight pattern can make it harder for birds to pursue.

Ecological Importance

Red Admirals, like other butterflies, play an essential role in the ecosystem as pollinators. They also serve as a food source for various predators, thereby maintaining a balance in the food chain.

Conservation Status

The Red Admiral is not considered endangered or threatened. In many areas, it is common and widespread.
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