Red Admiral Nymphalidae

Vanessa atalanta (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description: Wingspan 64-78mm. The uppersides are velvety black with two very conspicuous red bands; one runs across the forewing and the second on the side margin of the hindwing. There are also some white spots near the tip of the forewing. The patterning on the underside of the forewing largely reflects that on the upperside. The underside of the hindwing is intricately mottled in brown, grey and black. The females are on average larger than males but the sexes differ very little in appearance.

Similar Species: This large powerful species is easily recognised by its colouring.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside male underside

Flight Period: Adults have been recorded in all months. The vast majority of records have been in late summer and early Autumn.

Status: Adults have been seen in all parts of N. Ireland. In common with other migrant species, the largest numbers are usually seen on the southeast coast.

Ecology: A migrant species that reaches N. Ireland virtually annually. There are a few mid-winter sightings but little evidence of successful overwintering. The adults seen each year are immigrants from southern Europe and North Africa. Arrivals frequently occur from May onwards but the largest numbers are always present in late summer into the autumn. These can be seen anywhere as adults search out nectar sources. Late in the year adults will often be seen on fallen fruit.

World Distribution: A Holarctic species. Resident in southern Europe and central Asia.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 1590 Agassiz number: 59.023

Additional information:

UK Butterflies account


 Thompson, R. S. & Nelson, B., 2003 (Oct 2). [In] The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland