Red Admiral

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Filed under Outdoor Notes

May 19, 2010

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) is one of three species of Vanessa butterflies in our region. Most years, I may see a couple, here and there; this year, there are thousands of them.

This is a pretty unmistakable butterfly.  They like to light on roads and trails, especially on high ground, where the males wait for passing females. They will chase anything that comes within range, flying in quick skittery passes from point to point. Eggs are laid on food plants in the Nettle family (Urticaceae) and the caterpillars usually feed inside of a rolled-up leaf.

The adults will visit flowers, but they prefer to feed on tree sap, rotting fruit, and fresh poop–particularly nice, fresh bird poop.

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