Red Admiral butterfly
Red admirals are large, dramatic and beautiful butterflies. They are brown/black with white spots and red/orange stripes. They are found in most areas of the world, at least part of the year.
I like to have butterflies around. I'm not unusual in this. "Butterfly gardens" are
very popular. Most butterflies like flower nectar. The red admiral butterfly will
take a little nectar when none of their favorite savories are available but they prefer
rotting fruit, tree sap and bird droppings.
The red admiral caterpillar also has very specific tastes. They like nettles,
pellitory and hops.
I haven't had many red admirals about. I tend to keep
the rotting fruit and bird poop hosed off my gargoyles. My trees, 30 percent of which are maple, do produce
sap but I don't tap them. Stinging nettles have not been on my "new things to grow" wish list. Pellitory-on-the-wall
doesn't grow around here and considering its pollen is highly allergenic we don't want it. But
hops! I can do hops, and so maybe I'll see more red admirals one day soon.
I hope so. They seem really interesting.
My research says that as the summer day warms boy admirals pick a sunny spot to bask and for that afternoon the
"owner" of said territory
chases off other male red admiral butterflies as well as random fluttering leaves and small passing birds. Bigger things, like
people are not threatening and they may even land on us as they make their boundary rounds.
Awwwww! I want one.
The females basically fly by and get noticed
causing the male to abandon his post and chase her, the prize for that evening...
afternoon, there's another basking spot and another girl.
Those boys are easily distracted and "notice" many things. Those girls have about 500 eggs to disperse, here and there,
and that brings us back to the hops. The momma admiral looks for tender growing tips before depositing a few of her
precious cargo. When the tiny caterpillars
hatch they fold a leaf over themselves to form a little sheltering tent which they then proceed to eat. As they pass through
the normal five instars for their species they need bigger leaves and finally several leaves to form their shelter.
Not all red admiral larvae make it to the cocoon stage! More than two thirds of V. atalanta larvae are
infested by parasitic wasps or flies. Further natural enemies are spiders and earwigs.
Of those that make it, some of them will
hibernate over the winter as butterflies but in the most northern climates of their range they migrate south.
photos of egg and 5 instars
Dream flowers...(Weekend)...Daily Telegraph (London, England); 10/30/2004; Burton, Robert