Red Admiral | Butterfly of the Month

red admiral Butterfly

Vanessa atalanta rubria

Red Admiral Butterfly

The beautifully named Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta rubria) aka “Red Admirable” was coined by Robert Michael Pyle, renowned Lepidopterist.

Although Red Admirals are named “Admiral” they are classed to the Genus Vanessa (Ladies).

"Seasonal change is upon us as we transition from Summer into Fall and with this change the varieties and numbers of butterflies change and the food sources available to butterflies in general. Many of the food sources available earlier in the season, i.e., flowering plants are no longer available. However Fall flowering plants, e.g., snowy eriogonum, green and gray rabbitbrush, purple aster, etc., provide a food source as well as rotting fruit. The greatest number of butterflies a person may encounter during this time belong to the Brush-footed butterflies (Nymphalidae Family). Indeed the previous species covered in this series all belong to the brush-footed butterfly family as does the Red Admiral, which is characterized by distinct bright orange stripes on a dark chocolate background on the dorsal (back) side of their forewings and the marginal area of their hindwings. Opposite the orange stripes on the dorsal side are bright pinkish-orange stripes on the ventral side of the forewings complimented with white spots on both the dorsal and ventral sides of the tip of the forewings. Additionally on the ventral side there are faint bluish rectangles between the bright pinkish-orange and white spots. Ventral side of the hindwings area is mottling of gray, brown, black and white providing resembling camouflage that is quite effective when the Red Admiral is sitting still with wings folded and forewings tucked behind the hindwings."

"Adult Red Admirals will overwinter during mild winters. Their larval host plants are stinging nettles. Although not common they are most likely seen in riparian areas along streams and wet meadows where their larval host plants, stinging nettles, can be found.

Their food sources include thistle, milkweed and rabbitbrush flowers, and rotting fruit.

Red Admirals are 'on the wing' from late March through late October."

~ Dale Swedberg | Local Naturalist & Retired Sinlahekin Wildlife Area Manager

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