Red Admiral Butterfly
Red admiral butterflies are insects with a two to three inch wingspan. These insects live in moist woods and fields, and marshes. You can find red admiral butterflies all the way from Guatemala to northern Canada. During migrations they can be spotted in vastly different regions, from tundra to subtropics. Females lay their eggs individually along host plants, usually in the nettle family. They can lay up to 100 eggs per day. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillar emerges and rolls the leaf of the host plant around its body for protection and begins feeding. As the caterpillar matures, it can tie leaves together with silk for protection. Caterpillars have spikes along their bodies to discourage predators like birds. When the caterpillar grows to its mature size, it sheds its outer layer and begins to pupate. The chrysalis, or cocoon the caterpillar pupates in, has gold markings. The adult butterfly emerges from the cocoon. In winter the adults are smaller and have more muted colors while summer adults are larger and brighter. These butterflies are strong fliers with an erratic flight pattern, making it hard for birds to catch them. Adult red admiral butterflies have a dark brown base color with orange bands on the upper side of their wings. The underside of the wings incorporate bright orange and blue next to white and brown swirls. When adults are resting, they typically close their wings to reveal this more camouflage pattern. Adults prefer feeding on sap from trees, fermenting fruit, and bird droppings. They also visit flowers to consume nectar.