Red admiral

Red Admiral butterfly

Red Admiral ©Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

Red Admiral

Red Admiral ©Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

Red admiral

Scientific name: Vanessa atalanta
The red admiral is an unmistakable garden visitor. This black-and-red beauty may be seen feeding on flowers on warm days all year-round. Adults are mostly migrants, but some do hibernate here.

Species information


Wingspan: 6.4-7.8cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


A fairly large black, white and red butterfly, the red admiral is an impressive visitor to our gardens where it can be spotted feeding on buddleia and other flowers. It will also frequent all kinds of other habitats, from seashores to mountains! Adults sometimes hibernate, and may be seen flying on warm days throughout the year, although they are most common in the summer and early autumn. The caterpillars feed on common nettles.

How to identify

The red admiral is mainly black, with broad, red stripes on the hindwings and forewings, and white spots near the tips of the forewings.



Did you know?

Most red admirals are migrants to the UK from North Africa and continental Europe, arriving in spring and laying eggs that hatch from July onwards. But some adults manage to survive the winter by hibernating here.

How people can help

To attract butterflies, such as the red admiral, into your garden, plant nectar-rich borders for them to feed along and climbing ivy and shrubs for overwintering insects.


Red admiral feeding on the ground © Tom Hibbert