Red admiral - Vanessa atalanta


Family: Nymphalidae

Flight Time: March-November

Size: 56-63mm

Altitude: 0-2500m


A very widespread species. It has trouble surviving the winter in the UK (although some do) and so the population is boosted by migrants from mainland Europe. It is indeed a strong migrant, it has been recorded flying at night and also in sub zero temperatures. It certainly deserves its swift footed scientific name.

The only similar species in Europe is the Indian red admiral Vanessa vulcania, which only occurs on the Canary islands.

Red admiral larva in leaf. The larva of the Red admiral feeds on Nettles, they tend to be fairly solitary in this stage of their development. For defensive purposes they use silk to close a leaf which they can then feed on in relative safety. The picture left illustrates this, it certainly looks formidable to me.


Fact File

Similar Species Foodplants Habitat Distribution

Vanessa vulcania

Nettle - Urticanettlethm.jpg (8821 bytes)


Red admiral distribution

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Early Stages


Red admiral ovum. Red admiral larva Red admiral pupa.


All pictures in these pages copyright to Simon Coombes. Permission must be sought and obtained for any use.