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  • The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No, although the spines are sharp

  • What does it eat? Nettles

  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Not usually.

  • Is it rare? No -- this species is among the most common of North American butterflies.

  • What does it turn into? A pretty red and black butterfly

  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes, if you give it plenty of fresh leaves.

Red Admiral

This very common species is one of the most often-seen butterflies in urban areas. Ir has a quick and nervous flight, but it lands frequently; males will often patrol areas around porches and yards in the late afternoon, returning to the same perch after each tour of its territory. This butterfly is also well-known for its habit of landing on people, which it evidently regards as a suitable perch.


The caterpillar of this charming butterfly feed in groups on nettles. You will sometimes find their nest in the summer, with many individuals, and a whole lot of poop as well. They likely gain some protection by making this stinging plant their home.


Red admiral caterpillars are dark, with jagged yellow markings on the side. Their black spines cover most of the body, making it even more difficult for a predator to get anything more than a mouthful of prickles should they decide to attack.

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The red admiral, Vanessa atalanta

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