A recent article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer states “Red admirals are taking over Northeast Ohio.” This butterfly is identified by its striking dark brown, orange, and black wing pattern. More specifically, the dark wings possess orange bands that cross the forewings and on the outer edge of the hind wings.
An unusually high number of the insects are apparent this Spring – I’ve seen several in my backyard – especially on my shed and in the rock garden. Nobody knows for sure why every once in a while this butterfly’s population spikes. It could be climate change, a mild winter, or migrations from southern states to the northeast.
The Red Admiral has a very erratic, rapid flight. The males are territorial and many times can be found in the same location day to day. Adult butterflies prefer sap flowing from trees or fermenting fruit over nectar from flowers. Their caterpillars feed mainly on nettle. Here’s one I spotted on a tree in Zanesville, Ohio.
The undersides of the wings are a mottled brown and tan. They blend in very well forest the forest floor. This one resides at Brecksville Reservation.