The Red Admiral

The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) is a butterfly that can be sighted throughout Europe. Unlike other closely related species the Red Admiral can’t take the cold winter in the high North. Instead, the butterflies migrate every autumn heading to Southern Europe and North Africa.

Late spring or early summer, when the first Red Admirals appear, they’ve a long journey behind. Almost instantly on arrival they will breed and lay eggs that will form the second generation of butterflies flying. This generation will migrate back to a milder climate in autumn.

Summer 2014 has been a good year for the Red Admiral. I’ve seen them almost in masses. They did not only populate the butterfly bar in our backyard but it was also easy to track down caterpillars on nettles. Early June, while walking our twins, I even had the pleasure to witness a female laying eggs in front of my eyes. I couldn’t resist taking the egg and raise the butterfly.

Here’s my best photos of summer 2014, including all stages of the metamorphosis further down. This is a butterfly that definitely loves to pose for the camera.

Like the Small Tortoiseshell and the European Peacock, also the Red Admiral is an easy species to raise from caterpillar. Finding caterpillars may be a bit tricky since they often hide themselves in a “leaf pocket”. On the other side, just look out for a wrapped leaf of nettle and you might score relatively easy. Here’s some capture from season 2014.

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