Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral) Identified

Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral) on 7-11-21, #8-10-21.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. While I was taking photos and looking at the fruit/seeds of the Hedge Parsley by the shed on July 11, I noticed this butterfly on the wall. Its wings were closed at first so I didn’t think much about it. Then it opened its wings and I saw it was a butterfly I hadn’t seen before… I took several photos then went to get Nathan. Its wings were closed again when Nathan arrived. I told him not to get close or it would fly off… Strangely, it just stayed for several minutes with him just maybe 2 feet away.

Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral) on 7-11-21, #810-22.

I posted photos on iNaturalist and it turned out to be a Vanessa atalanta also known as the Red Admiral. Although I hadn’t seen one before, there are several observations posted from Missouri.

Map of observations of Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral) from iNaturalist members worldwide. The iNaturalist website is published on the internet at https// The iNaturalist website is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic Society. This map was retrieved and shared on this site with permission on July 15, 2021.

The above map of observations for Vanessa atalanta is from iNaturalist. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as new observations are submitted by its members. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations.

Information online says the Red Admiral is known to be somewhat calm allowing people to get close without flying off. It says they even fly on people and rest for a while.

Information also says the males are very territorial and females ONLY choose males to mate with that have an established territory.

The primary food source for the larvae is Urtica dioica (Stinging Nettle) and they can also be found on Boehmeria cylindrica (False Nettle). I have seen False Nettle here in the back of the farm but I haven’t noticed any closer to the house. I haven’t seen any Stinging Nettle recently but there could be plants by the old Mulberry tree. Well, a few years ago there was this huge colony of plants I suspected was Stinging Nettle but I never took photos for a positive ID…  Adult butterflies also feed on nectar and overripe fruit.

You never know, maybe someday I will see another Red Admiral.

The garden looking great, so I’ll have to take a few photos. I went back to the briar patch along the south hayfield on the 20th to check on the Pale Indian Plantain and took A LOT more photos. The Pale Indian Plantain’s buds still hadn’t opened so I will have to make another trip soon. GEEZ! I will get a post together because I made a new discovery. I FINALLY found a plant I had previously been watching north of the chicken house. It was in the wooly mess of blackberry briars. Then, on the 19th, while I was taking photos of the leaves on the grapevines north of the chicken house, I spotted a few more. Previously, I was observing rosettes from first-year plants with no flowers, so when I spotted it blooming in the briar patch I had no idea what it was. I uploaded photos on iNaturalist and when I saw the name I was surprised… Completely different! Then, on the 19th, when I was in the jungle north of the chicken house taking photos of the leaves on the grapevines, I saw several. Yeah, photos of the leaves on the grapevines. I will tell you why in a future post…

My next post will be about what the Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Donkey Ears) did. 🙂

OK, it is after 2 AM so I better close and go to bed. Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Always be thankful and GET DIRTY!


13 comments on “Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral) Identified

  1. shoreacres says:

    Aren’t they pretty? I don’t see them as often as other species here, but they’re around. I’m going to be posting on Lagniappe about bull nettle (Cnidoscolus texanus) and one of my photos shows a Red Admiral nectaring on bull nettle flowers. It’s amazing that they move so freely on plants that can cause us such pain!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Linda! I agree it is odd how delicate butterflies and moths feed on such thorny plants. Apparently, Missouri doesn’t have Cnidoscolus texanus, but I would imagine anything with Finger Rot as a common name isn’t pleasant. 🙂 Looking forward to your post (but you may have to give me a nudge). Take care and thanks for the comment.


  2. Dayphoto says:

    Thank you. That was a fun and very interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pixydeb says:

    Beautiful red admiral – I have them in the garden, I saw a large one down by the south coast yesterday where I was working – they seem to like to be around mature Ivy too? I don’t know if that’s a thing for them. Maybe for egg laying? Caterpillars? Pupae?
    The plantain is playing hard to get!!! 🙂 Super hot here for England at 32 yesterday but typically we still managed some rain as there was a late storm!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Debbie! Glad you have the Red Admiral in your garden. I would like to see more of them. Interesting how they are around your ivy… Well, I need to get back to the briar patch AGAIN and check on the progress of the plant. I dread walking over there through the tall grass then fighting the blackberry briars. But, it will be worth it and I must remember to take the tape measure. It has been in the mid 80’s here (F) which is not bad with a breeze. The forecast is saying 90 plus for the next few days, though. It was nice while it lasted. 🙂 Take care and thanks for the comment!


  4. tonytomeo says:

    Territorial?! That sounds almost comical for a butterfly. She has a pretty name though. Alternatively, he has a silly girls name. That species lives here also. The map shows a dark spot right over Los Gatos.

    Liked by 1 person

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