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Red Admiral

Vanessa atalanta

Red Admiral butterfly, observed at Superior, AZ. Photo © by Mike Plagens

The year 2010 apparently was a good year for Red Admiral in the Sonoran Desert; many newly emerged adults were seen. This one was photographed near Superior, Pinal Co., Arizona, USA.

Nymphalidae -- Brush-footed Butterfly Family

Like other members of the butterfly genus Vanessa, the Red Admiral is migratory. Butterflies that spend the winter months in southern Arizona likely emerged to the north in the mountains of western North America last autumn. Come March and April the butterflies might lay their eggs on a suitable host plant (Parietaria ?). The caterpillars pupate (form a chrysalis) before changing to new adult butterflies which will begin the summer journey northward through May, June and July. In cooler, moister habitats the red admiral caterpillars can be found on nettles (f. Urticaceae). Unlike many butterflies, the Red Admiral, rarely visits flowers prefering tree sap or even moist dung.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2010