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Red Admiral Butterfly

Vanessa atalanta

Red Admiral Butterfly , Red Admiral

A Vanessa atalanta Red admiral butterfly on a leaf

Vanessa atalanta 2 Luc Viatour

by Lviatour. CC-BY-SA-3.0

1 of 15
Red Admiral Butterflies (Vanessa atalanta) are beautiful black, red and white insects, frequent to gardens. Red Admirals are migratory butterflies, spending much of the winter season in North Africa. They migrate to mainland Europe and the British Isles in the spring ready to lay eggs. Sometimes, they'll hibernate in Europe and emerge again to mate the following year. They're excellent pollinators of garden plants. They'll pollinate as they move from flower to flower to feed on the nectar. The smell of rotting fruit can also attract Red Admirals. Likewise, you might see the butterflies flying near Nettles (Urtica spp.), which is the primary food plant for the caterpillars. They thrive in all kinds of habitats, including gardens and parks, mountain ranges, seashores, woodland and farmland. V. atalanta are a common sight in the UK, and you can see them all year around in some parts of the region.
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Red Admirals are most active through the spring to autumn, making them reliable pollinators.


Adults: Red Admiral butterflies are mainly black with orange-red bands diagonally crossing the forewings as well as bordering the hindwings. There are variable white dots present on the forewings, and some blue colouring is evident in some individuals too. Larvae: The caterpillars can take on several forms. They can be black, brown, green and yellow – and all of the combinations in between. The caterpillars are covered in spines, each comprising many spikes. Pupae: Brown and leaf-like, typically attached to Nettle plants. Egg: The tiny light green eggs are laid beneath the leaves of the caterpillar food plant, Nettle.











North Africa, Europe and the British Isles

Biological treatment

Butterflies are important pollinators; they're also a vital resource for garden wildlife like birds, reptiles, and other predatory insects. Unfortunately, the larvae, or caterpillars, can sometimes be pests in years where conditions are optimum for breeding. If in high abundance, caterpillars may be picked off garden plants using gloves and relocated.


A close up of some purple Buddleja flowers in a garden


Buddleja spp.

A close up of some pink Centranthus ruber flowers on a plant in a garden

Red Valerian

Centranthus ruber

A close up of a Verbena flower


Verbena spp.


Sedum spp.


Hebe spp.

Wild Marjoram

Origanum laevigatum

Common Knapweed

Centaurea nigra


Urtica spp.

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