Species of the month: September - Red Admiral

Let us know if you've seen some on our form below


Common Name: Red Admiral

Scientific Name: Vanessa atalanta

Identification: This bold black, red and white butterfly is common throughout Dorset and the UK. Its markings are striking and distinctive with a predominant black colouring intersected with red bands and white dots. The summer population in the UK is the result of adults flying over from North Africa and Europe to breed here. What a voyage! Some may cope with overwintering in the UK and therefore can be seen all year round in the UK.

Diet: It feeds on nectar rich plants particularly from buddleia, ivy blossom, bramble, teasel and thistles. They also like windfall fruit and can often be seen feeding on apples and blackberries. The female lays her eggs on nettles and so the primary food plant of the caterpillar is common nettle.

Behaviour: Red admirals are one of the larger UK butterflies and have a strong bold flight. If you look carefully the female can be seen flitting from plant to plant to lay eggs interspersed with resting.

  • The red admiral caterpillars fold over leaves of nettles to shelter them from predators!

Where can they be found?:

They can be found in gardens and towns to seashores or mountains! They can be found on most of our reserves but here are some splendid reserves to visit to see the Red Admiral

Wildife Gardening Tips:

  • If you have room leave a patch of nettles in a quiet corner of the garden or plant nettles in a pot!

  • Plant plenty of flowering plants in your garden like buddleia (dwarf varieties available) and Autumn flowering plants such as sedums and Michaelmas daisies.

  • Leave windfall on the ground for them to feed from.

  • Leave your ivy to flower in the Autumn.

Let us know if you've seen a Red Admiral below...

Your Red Admiral details
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