Monday, June 29, 2009
This beautiful butterfly is the Red Admiral (Vanessa Atalanta). They are very common and found throughout North America. Average in size at around 1 3/4 to 3 inches, but their coloring is anything but average. They are very distinctively marked with black wings. The forewings have a bright red band and three bright white spots. Hindwing has a red marginal band with tiny black spots within the orange. The extreme edge of the hindwing is white. The summer form of this butterfly is larger and brighter than the winter form. Adults will nectar from various flowers , and blooming trees. They are also attracted to fermented fruit, sap flows and bird droppings. Females will lay eggs singly on the leaves of the host plant. Young caterpillars will live in shelters of rolled leaves, older caterpillars will live in nests of leaves tied together with silk. Caterpillars feed on various plants in the nettle family. They prefer areas near moist woods, or other moist habitats. Found in gardens nectaring at flowers, and during mating season can be found almost anywhere. The flight of this butterfly is very fast and erratic making them very difficult to capture and can make photographing them a challenge at times. Fortunately these individuals were so busy eating that they cooperated nicely. These butterflies will hibernate over winter, except in the extreme northern reaches of their range. Their inability to tolerate extreme cold temperatures causes these northern inhabitants to perish and they will be replaced the following spring by migrants from their southern most range.