Thursday, 7 April 2011

red admiral butterfly

Our red admirals are one of our most readily recognised butterflies. Their striking red, black and white colours gave them the name 'Admirable' before this became the 'Admiral' we use today.

There is a population that overwinters in the south of England, but the overwhelming majority migrate to us from Northern Africa, usually arriving in May.

So, I'm guessing that the red admirals that were so busy around us on Saturday were from the southern English overwintering population or precociously early African visitors.

In spring, their flight is speedy and they do not seem to rest. In the heat of the summer, feeding on buddleia, they seem languid and composed.

At this time of year, red admirals are prospecting around, finding breeding territories that contain abundant stinging nettles on which the females lay their eggs. Nettles are the main food plant of red admiral caterpillars. Our site seems ideal!!

After the caterpillars have pupated, the butterflies will head south for their African winter. I am not sure whether these butterflies return again in the spring or whether they breed in Africa with these making the journey to Europe. It would seem strange not to go on a sunny foreign holiday and not have ones thoughts turning to associated themes.

Gardeners can help with the flowers of late summer like buddleia, marjoram, sedum and Livingstone Daisies which give the butterflies chance to build themselves up before their long migratory flight.

Post a Comment