Vanessa atalanta | Red Admiral | Aimiréal dearg



Conservation status

Ireland: Least Concern (Regan et al., 2010)
Europe: Least Concern (van Swaay et al., 2010)
Climate risk category: Potential Climate Change Risk; present distribution in Europe can be explained by climate to only a limited extent (Settele et al., 2008)

Legal status

The Red Admiral is not afforded legal protection in Ireland.

Native status

Common Migrant

Species Biology


Key identification features include:

  • Large size, wingspan: 64 - 78 mm
  • Broad red and white bands on the upperside of wings in contrast with dark interior of wings and body


Generalist on tall-herb and grassy forest clearings, field margins, urban parks and gardens. Adults fly rapidly in sunshine and bask on a wide range of flowers, especially purple ones; they also bask on warm surfaces such as sunlit walls. They roost on tree trunks and may also hibernate in this situation or in rabbit holes or sheds (Bond & Gittings, 2008).

Flight period

Migrants can be seen in flight across the year, but less commonly in December.  The greatest abundances are typically observed between July and September.

Life stages

Life cycle

Eggs are laid upright on the upper side of the leaves of the foodplant. The larva feeds non-gregariously on the leaves of its foodplant. It produces a tent-like structure by spinning together the outside of a leaf, and emerges from this to feed. Late autumn larvae are likely to be killed by frost. The larva may be found anytime from late June to autumn. Pupation occurs in late summer among spun leaves, with the pupa suspended on a silken pad. Overwintering, which probably occurs only exceptionally, is in the adult stage (Bond & Gittings, 2008).

Food plants

The larva almost exclusively feed on Common Nettle (Urtica dioica), although Dwarf Nettle (Urtica urens) and Pellitory (Parietaria judaica) may occasionally be consumed.

Flowers visited

Generalist,  adults feed primarily on Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), Buddleja (Buddleja davidii), Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), Honeydew / Sap, Ivy (Hedera helix), Privet (Ligustrum vulgare), Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) and Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.).


World distribution(GBIF)

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023

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Bond, K.G.M. and Gittings, T. 2008. Database of Irish Lepidoptera. 1 - Macrohabitats, microsites and traits of Noctuidae and butterflies. Irish Wildlife Manuals, No. 35. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin, Ireland.

Regan, E.C., Nelson, B., Aldwell, B., Bertrand, C., Bond, K., Harding, J., Nash, D., Nixon, D. and Wilson, C.J. 2010. Ireland Red List No. 4 – Butterflies. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Ireland.

Settele, J., Kudrna, O., Harpke, A., Kühn, I., Van Swaay, C., Verovnik, R., Warren, M.S., Wiemers, M., Hanspach, J., Hickler, T. and Kühn, E. 2008. Climatic risk atlas of European butterflies. Sofia-Moscow: Pensoft.

Van Swaay, C., Cuttelod, A., Collins, S., Maes, D., López Munguira, M., Šašic, M., Settele, J., Verovnik, R., Verstrael, T., Warren, M., Wiemers, M. and Wynhof, I. 2010. European Red List of Butterflies. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.