Home / Brush-Footed (Nymphalidae) / Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Red Admiral Butterfly
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The Red Admiral butterfly previously known as the red admirable is a medium sized species indigenous to the temperate parts North Africa, Europe, the Americas, Caribbean islands and Asia. Though it mostly inhabits the warmer regions, this butterfly moves northward during spring and even in autumn.

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

Red Admiral Caterpillar
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Red Admiral Butterfly Larvae
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The caterpillars have a black body with light yellow or white speckles.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Genus: Vanessa
  • Scientific Name: Vanessa atalanta

Pupa

Red Admiral Chrysalis
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The color of the pupa is bright scarlet and black in high and low temperatures respectively. Hence, in summer they are bright and in winter the butterflies are heavily pigmented.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Color and Appearance: When the wings are opened, the dorsal part of the forewings and outer surface of its hind wings has orange bands. The distal point of its forewings has white spots while the ventral side is brown with black, red and white patches. The entire hind wing has a brown marbled pattern. When the wings are closed, the marbled pattern is prominent with bands of red, black and white.

Red Admiral
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Vanessa Atalanta
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Average Wingspan: 4.4 – 6.4 cm (1.75 -2.50 inches)

Flight Pattern: Steady and erratic while males are more adept in flight than the females.

Eggs and Larva

Red Admiral Butterfly Eggs
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The eggs are round and pale green, often laid upon false nettle. The larva is one inch long having a black body with white spots on it.

Quick Facts

DistributionNorth Africa, Asia, Europe, North and Central America, Caribbean and Hawaiian islands
HabitatParks, marshes, yards, moist fields, moist woods, seeps
Lifespan of AdultsTwo weeks on an average
Host PlantsStinging nettle (Urtica dioica); False nettle (Boehmeria cylindrical); as well as plants belonging to the Cannabaceae, and Compositae family
Adult Diet Sap oozing from trees, bird droppings, fermenting fruits, as well as nectar of flowering plants like milkweed, aster, red clove, alfalfa

Did You Know

  • Noted botanist, Carl Linnaeus, was the first to describe it in 1758, in his 10th edition of Systema Naturae.
  • This species features in many of Vladimir Nabokov’s works like Pale Fire; King, Queen Knave; Speak, Memory
  • From a spiritual point of view, a red admiral butterfly means a powerful spirit or soul while certain cultures have superstitious belief and consider it to be a symbol of danger or evil.
  • The caterpillars appear to be toxic or painful but may be handled safely.
Red Admiral Butterfly Images
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Red Admiral Butterfly Pictures
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Red Admiral Butterfly Range
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Red Admiral Butterfly Host Plant
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Images of Red Admiral Butterfly
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Admiral Red
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