I was at the Lexington Arboretum recently and saw at least fifteen Red Admiral butterflies (Vanessa atalanta) in the same area. I’ve often seen Red Admirals, but usually only one at a time.
After some reading, I’ve discovered these butterflies often migrate south in autumn and north in spring, and I’m guessing that I was seeing part of their northward migration. This one was basking in the sun on a stone column.
The Red Admiral is one of our more common butterflies and is found throughout North America, as well as Central America and parts of Europe and Asia. The distinctive bright red-orange bands on the dark-colored wings with white spots make it easy to identify when you have a top view. The side view looks quite different.
The host plant or caterpillar food for Red Admirals is nettles. The adults feed on sap, decaying matter, and nectar. The ones I saw were feeding on the nectar of Schip Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus ‘Schipkaensis’) sometimes referred to as cherry laurels.
What butterflies have you seen this spring?