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Species Page - Vanessa atalanta
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scientific name    Vanessa atalanta    

common name     Red Admiral

Widespread throughout most of the province, found especially near wooded areas.

Occurs throughout the season, most common in June and again in August.

The upperside wing pattern, with bold red bands and white apical spots on a black background, is unique and unlike any other Alberta species. The North American populations are slightly different in appearance from the European ones, and are generally referred to as subspecies rubria. The common name is somewhat misleading, since this is not an Admiral (genus Limentitis) at all; for this reason, some authors have reverted to an older name, the Red Admirable (Pyle 2002).

life history
The light-green eggs are barrel-shaped and have nine vertical ribs. The mature larva are variable in colour, ranging from cream to grey, brown or black with fine white spots and a lateral stripe of greenish-yellow patches (Guppy & Shepard 2001). Larvae bear bear long branching spines that are generally black (Guppy & Shepard 2001). Larvae form a tent-like feeding shelter by tying together the edges of the leaf on which they are feeding (Guppy & Shepard 2001). It is unclear whether or not the Red Admiral survives the Alberta winter; the summer broods (mid-June onwards) are apparently the offspring of spring migrants. Remarkably, the Red Admiral is able to complete at least two broods in southern Canada after the arrival of spring migrants (Guppy & Shepard 2001, Layberry et al. 1998), with peak emergences in mid to late June and again in August.

Not of concern.

diet info
The larvae feed on nettles (Urtica spp.) (Scott 1986), and can be found on stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) in Alberta. Adults are attracted to rotting fruit and dung, but also flower nectar (Bird et al. 1995, Guppy & Shepard 2001).

Widespread throughout the northern hemisphere, occuring from northern Africa across most of Eurasia, and south to Guatemala in the New World; occasionally straying as far north as Iceland (Scott 1986).

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Joe Belicek (2014-04-19)
Vanessa atalanta rubria (Fruhstorfer, 1909). (Pyrameis).
(a) Taxonomic notes: V. rubria was described as a subspecies of atalanta, based on N. American specimens from Mexico. N. Kondla coined a very apt, new common name, Orange Admiral for this taxon. In comparison with the Red Admiral from Euro-asia, the discal band on the front wings, as well as the marginal band on the hind wings is decidedly Orange in umbria. In Vanessa atalanta the coloration is RED. Closely related species: V. vulcania Godart, 1819 and V. indica (Herbst, 1794).
(b) Rearing notes: The grass-green egg is typical barrel shaped ovoid, with 9-10 longitudinal ribs (lamellae). Eggs are laid singly on the leaves of the host plants. The caterpillar feeds on nettles. The larva chews partially through the petiole of the leaf and rolls-up the drooping leaf into a tubelike tent. The larvae are highly variable in coloration. The body colour varies from pale brown to black. The yellowish-white lateral stripe on the sides is formed from individual, separated bars. Each segment has bears a transverse row of prominent, spiculate spines. The pupa is brown to gray-brown with multiple dorsal metallic, gold coloured spots and with a series of short, dorsal spines on the abdomen.
(c) Voltinism & abundance. In Alberta, the univoltine Orange Admiral is not common. Around Edmonton, it is quite rare most years. I found several larvae on nettles, growing in a ditch near Ellerslie. Like in many other Nymphalines, the population dynamics of this species markedly fluctuates. Larval parasitoids seem to control the number of surviving individuals. For many years, I went without without seeing one. N. Kondla (pers. comm.) - 2012 was the first and only time that I was able to bag a good series of them. Snagged about 100, nice fresh specimens, west of Rimbey, mostly off alfalfa flowers and thistles. Seeing none on an outing is completely normal for the V. rubria. -

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Specimen Info
There are 43 specimens of this species in the online database
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Specimen List (43)


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