ABH 59.023

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta

BF 1590

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(Linnaeus (1758)
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Large sized: wingspan, .
Male: 64 - 72mm
Female: 70 - 78m


Both sexes are velvety black with a conspicuous diagonal red band across the forewings and a similar red band around the rear margin of the hindwings. A number of prominent white patches occur towards the tips of the forewings, outside the red bands and a series of small black spots extend along the centre of the red bands on the hindwings. The undersides of the forewings mirror the colour-patterning of the upper sides with rose, rather than red, banding on a duller grey-brown to black ground colouration. The undersides of the hind wings have a similar ground colouration to that of the forewings but the red band of the upper surface is absent. There is a subtriangular white patch on the leading edge of the hindwing.

May be found anywhere in Britain and Ireland and in all habitat types.

Starting each spring and continuing through the summer there are northward migrations, which are variable in extent and timing, from North Africa and continental Europe. The immigrant females lay eggs and consequently there is an emergence of fresh butterflies, from about July onwards. They continue flying into October or November and are typically seen nectaring on garden buddleias or flowering Ivy and on rotting fruit.

There is an indication that numbers have increased in recent years and that overwintering has occurred in S of England.


Life Cycle

Adults can be observed through the year increasing up to May and June as an influx of migrants arrive from the continent. These breed and give rise to the next generation of adults with a peak of emergence between mid-August and early October. There is a single brood each year.



Ubiquitous in its habitat presentation Upland , woodland , garssland etc The Red Admiral is a strong flier but prefers to settle more around sheltered sites such as woodlands glades and edges, hedgerows and in gardens. It is essentially a migrant species which seldom survives the British winter. New populations migrate in from the continent each year from March/April onwards. Eggs are laid on the Common Nettle, Urtica dioica, shortly afterwards with the caterpillars pupating from July onwards





Vanessa atalanta