Santa Barbara Field Guides – Butterflies
Nymphalidae Vanessa atalanta
wingspread 1.8-2.5 in. Recognition:
Unique; bright orange/ red band cuts diagonally through middle of FW; white spots above band on otherwise dark background; HW dark with thick orange edge (with blue spots at inner corners). Flight period:
Adults can be found all year in southern California, and from March to November in other areas. Hostplants:
Larvae feed mostly on nettle, false nettle, and wood nettle (all Urticaceae). Habitat:
Red Admirals can grace the suburban yard, and are found in a variety of other habitats including open fields, scrubby areas, and foothills. Distribution:
Common and widespread throughout most of North America, but is only a seasonal colonist of areas where it cannot survive winters. Quite common in southern California and is recorded on Santa Cruz Island.
In suburban yards, males will sometimes 'claim' territories, returning to the same area repeatedly for weeks.