Red Admiral

Vanessa atalanta (Linnaeus, 1758)



A medium sized red and black coloured butterfly. The upperside is black with a red band across the middle of the forewing, and a white band near the wing tip, the hindwing is black with a red margin. The underside of the forewing is similar to the upperside. The hindwing underside is marbled brown. Males and females are similar. The markings are distinctive and it shouldn’t be confused with any other species. 

Habitat Requirements

Seen everywhere - ubiquitous.

Larval Foodplants

Cirsium creticum, Cirsium creticum subsp. creticum, Cirsium italicum, Spear Thistle Cirsium vulgare, Common Nettle Urtica dioica, Small Nettle Urtica urens, Hop Humulus lupulus, Pellitory-of-the-wall, Parietaria judaica, Eastern Pellitory-of-the-wall Parietaria officinalis.

Anne Sordinas has observed larvae in Corfu on U. dioica.


The butterfly has multiple broods a year, and is a well-known long distance migrant, so can be found in any sunny location. It is almost certainly one of the earliest butterflies reported at the start of every new year and seems to have benefitted massively from climate change, with all stages of its life cycle now having been reported at all times of the year.

*The information provided in the tables below is based on verified sightings of the Red Admiral submitted via this website since 1st January 2021.

First and Last Sightings

Year First Last/latest # Days
2023 01/01/2023 27/11/2023 330 days
2022 01/01/2022 31/12/2022 364 days
2021 01/01/2021 31/12/2021 364 days

Number of Observations

Year Number of observations
2023 958
2022 1092
2021 248
Grand Total 2298

Distribution Map

Distribution maps for this species are currently unavailable.

Flight Times for the Red Admiral (2023)

The chart below shows flight data by month for 2023

Flight Times for the Red Admiral (All Data)

The chart below shows flight data by month since 1st January 2021


  • Vernacular/Common Name: Red Admiral
  • Family: Nymphalidae (Rafinesque, 1815)
  • Sub-family: Nymphalinae (Rafinesque, 1815)
  • Tribe: Nymphalini (Rafinesque, 1815)
  • Genus: Vanessa (Fabricius, 1807)
  • Species: atalanta (Linnaeus, 1758)


For a list of references, please see our bibliography page.