Sunday, October 09, 2011

Red Admiral /Admiral

Vanessa atalanta 

We're soon in the middle of October, and most butterflies have gone now, but we might still see a few Red Admirals. I  have seen Red Admiral as late as in the first week of November. It is a beautiful butterfly and easy to catch sight of with its bright red-black-white colours.

The Red Admiral has a wingspan of 52-62 mm. The orange-red band varies in colours and might be divided in the middle by the black basic colour. The black spots in the red seam of the back wings might be very small or miss completely. About 1/4 of all specimen has a little white spot in the red band of the front wing.

Red Admiral on nettle

It is a migrating butterfly and can be seen everywhere, but  is especially seen in edges of woods or in glades and in places with nettles in the open land. The fodderplant of the caterpillar is nettle. The flight of the butterfly is fast and goal-oriented. It seeks to various flowers and not at least to overripe windfalls and fermenting sap on wounded trees. The butterfly gets easily intoxicated and is then easy to sneak up on.

Arrivers of the Red Admiral come to Denmark from South Europe in  May-June, and Danish descendants fly from late July till first October. It is very rare to see the butterfly in February, March or April. The Red Admiral overwinters as an adult butterfly.  Many individuals migrate south in autumn, while others hide for overwintering among dense branches and foliage, like ivy. Usually it does not survive the Danish winter, but a few butterflies manage well now and then in the mildest years.  The Red Admiral flies and lives as far north as Iceland. 
Red Admiral drinking the sap high up a tree

The frequency of the Red Admiral vary, but the species are the most faithful among Denmark's migrating butterflies. The arrival from South Europe in May and June is usually not very remarkable, but the descendants in late summer can appear in huge numbers in some years. Red Admiral is found everywhere in Denmark.                                                                              

Source: Michael Stoltze, Dagsommerfugle i Danmark, 1998.
photos: grethe bachmann     

In other countries: (source: Wikipedia):
The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) is found in temperate Europe, Asia and North America. In North America, the Red Admiral generally has two broods from March through October. Most of North America must be recolonized each spring by southern migrants, but this species over-winters in south Texas.

The Red Admiral is the butterfly featured by Vladimir Nabokov, an amateur lepidoptrist, in his novel "Pale Fire".


Landbohaven said...

Rigtig gode billeder af den smukke Sommerfugl.
Tak for kigget.

Thyra said...

Hej Landbohaven! Tak skal du ha'! Tak fordi du besøgte mig.
Venlig hilsen
Grethe `)

wordconnections said...

I was surprised when I learned a few months ago that the red admiral, which I know only from here in central Texas, is common in Europe as well. I don't know on which side of the Atlantic it originated, nor how it got to the other side.

Thyra said...

Hello! yes, the Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta is common in temperate Europe, Asia and North America.

There are two other species of the Vanessa:
(Red Admiral)Vanessa gonerilla in New Zealand and Vanessa india in India.

I think it's a beautiful creature, I have seen it recently, late October in a sunbeam!

I don't know either from where the Admiral came first, but it is able to fly a long distance! Maybe that's why it's called atalanta. It has crossed the Atlantic once!

Grethe ´)