Red admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)
The Red Admiral is a frequent visitor to gardens throughout the British Isles and one of our most well-known butterflies. This butterfly is unmistakable, with velvety black wings intersected by striking red bands.
This butterfly is primarily a migrant to our shores. However, sightings of individuals and immature stages in the first few months of the year, especially in the south of England, mean that this butterfly is now considered a resident. This resident population is considered only to be a small fraction of the population seen in the British Isles, which gets topped up every year with migrants arriving in May and June that originate in central Europe. Unfortunately, most individuals are unable to survive our winter, especially in the cooler regions of the British Isles.
The number of adults seen in any one year is, therefore, dependent on the number of migrants reaching the British Isles, and numbers fluctuate as a result. In some years, this butterfly can be widespread and common, in others rather local and scarce. This is a widespread species and can be found anywhere in the British Isles, including Orkney and Shetland.
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