Floridata Article

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Red Admiral
Habitat: Moist woodlands, forest edges, gardens and open areas Garden Abundance: Occasional Wingspan: 1.7 to 2.3in Larval Host Plants: False nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica), pellitory (Parietaria spp.) and nettles (Urtica spp.) Favorite Adult Nectar Sources: Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum), and purpletop verbena (Verbena bonariensis)

One of the most common, widespread and recognizable butterflies in the world, the red admiral occurs throughout much of Europe, Asia and North America. The bright red stripes of the wings above are in stark contrast to the mottled blue, cream and brown undersides. The red admiral has a strong affinity for flowers and is a familiar sight in most gardens, backyards, roadsides, city parks, forest edges and open areas. Strong and agile on the wing, the red admiral is best observed and most easily approached while nectaring. Adults can also be found at rotting fruit, tree sap and animal dung. Males readily establish territories and often return to the same perch day after day.

Extremely variable in color, the spiny larvae feed within the confines of solitary silken nests which they weave on their host plant leaves.

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