Vanessa atalanta – Red Admiral

Caterpillar foods:  nettles (Urticaceae), thistles, Salicaceae ( willows and poplars), Cannabaceae (hops)  (Bugguide);  Plants in the Urticaceae including Urtica dioica, Urtica gracilis, Laportea canadensis, Boehmeria cylindrica, Parietoria pennsylvanica, Pipturus albidus, and possibly Humulus (BAMONA)

Red Admirals don’t overwinter this far north.  They come north every spring – in very variable numbers – and after a generation or two – many fly south again in the fall.  (Bugguide)

They prefer sap from trees, animal dung, and fermenting fruit, but will also take nectar from flowers.  (BAMONA)

They usually show up here in very early spring – March or April.  Some years we see almost none.  Other years there are many.  We’ve had two years where we saw thousands.  One of those years was soon after we first bought the farm.  We still had many fences lined with stinging nettles.  That year every nettle plant was stripped of its leaves, and dripped with chrysalises.


Red Admiral 9-11-14 1



red admiral 10-5-09 1



red admiral 4-10-11



red admiral 5-15-10 1



red admiral 8-28-08


4/22/2012  egg on nettle (Urtica dioica)

red admiral egg



egg 4-22-12 2


5/21/2012  larva

caterpillar 5-21-12 1


5/21/2012   larva in leaf shelter

caterpillar nest 5-21-12 1


5/21/2012  larva in leaf shelter

caterpillar nest 5-21-12 2




6/4/2012   chrysalis

6-4-12 chrysalis 1


6/11/2012   chrysalis just before hatching

6-11-12 chrysalis about to hatch


6/11/2012  newly emerged adult

6-11-12 hatched 3


6/11/2012  newly emerged adult

6-11-12 hatched 1