Status:    uncommon resident; possible migrant

Flights:  1+, Jan-Dec

Distribution/known sites in Monterey County:  widely scattered sightings, lowlands to peaks; Pacific Grove, Chalone Pks., Gloria Rd., Manzanita Park, King City

Habitats:  open areas w/flowers: riparian, fields, beaches, urban, woodlands

Host plants:  hoary and other nettles, hops

Adult foodprefers tree sap, rotten fruit, animal droppings, but also nectars at red clover, alfalfa, milkweed

Conservation: secure globally


  1.   rapid, erratic flight, often returns to same perch/series of perches

  2.   adult overwinters, active on warm days

  3.   often territorial and aggressive, even toward humans

  4.   known hybrids with WCLA

  5.   aka Alderman butterfly, occurs in Europe and Asia

  6.   winter form may be smaller/duller than summer form


Red admiral

Vanessa atalanta

Life history facts

egg: laid singly on tops of host plant leaves

larva:  young lives/feeds in shelter of folded leaves; older caterpillar makes nest of leaves tied with silk

pupa: sometimes overwinters as chrysalis

adult:  males ridgetop, set up territories on hilltops, in clearings, yards to find fem., esp late afternoon; perching and ovipositing continue into evening

manzanita park