Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta (Linnaeus, 1758)

Superfamily: Papilionoidea Family: Nymphalidae Status: Resident in Madeira

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta

Recommended tours to watch this butterfly

Full-day birdwatching
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A medium-large velvet black and red-orange butterfly. The fore-wing upperside has a red stripe crossing from costa to anal angle and white spots close to the subapex, on the submargin and margins. Its hind-wing upperside submargin is red with black dots while the underside is mottled with greyish-brown. It shows some hints of blue on the basal area of its fore-wing undersides.

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta

Vanessa atalanta Caterpillars

Larvae are polymorphic.

Host & Food Plants

Its larva, in Madeira, feeds on Urtica membranacea and Parietaria judaica, both from the Urticaceae family (Aguiar & Karsholt, 2006)
The butterfly is normally attracted to nectar-rich plants as Rubus fruticosus, Eupatorium cannabinum, Hedera helix, Sedum spectabilis and Buddleia davidii. (Tolman & Lewington, 2009)

Habitat & behaviour

Occurs in diverse habitats with flowers and often basks on walls and rock faces.

Distribution in Atlantic Islands of Macaronesia:

Occurs in Madeira, Porto Santo, Deserta Grande, Azores and Canary Islands (Aguiar & Karsholt, 2006)


Regional status according to Aguiar & Karsholt, 2008: Native to Madeira, Porto Santo & Desertas
Regional status according to Aguiar & Karsholt, 2006: Endemic to Macaronesia
Regional status according to Wakeham-Dawson et al., 2001: Not common on Madeira but widely distributed. It is found sparingly on Desertas and Porto Santo Islands
Status according to the European Red List of Butterflies, 2010: Least Concern

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