Surely admiral is a good name for this butterfly, for, like to great adventurous admirals of history, Columbus, Magellan, Drake and Perry, the Red Admiral has voyaged far and wide across the world. From the brilliant snows of Fujiyama in Japan to the dark ramparts of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, all over Europe and westward to Iceland, Greenland and Canada the Red Admiral has adventured. Covering the United States with its flashing beauty, it has even dared to invade the tropics as far south as Guatemala.
The four glorious orange-red bars and the white dots against the dark brown of the wing-tips of the forewings mark the Red Admiral for every eye. His friendly nature–he has been known to circle around a man’s head as if looking him over–and love of damp spots on the road endear him to the butterfly collector. Yet he can fly rapidly, if he sets his mind to it, and many a bird has been surprised to find that what he thought was going to be a nice mouthful of fat butterfly turned out to be empty air!
“What extraordinarily different children!” you would say about the Red Admiral’s caterpillars, for they vary through many color variations, from black with rows of yellow spots and white warts, to mottled whitish, light greenish or brownish. “And why in the world,” you ask, “do they want to live on nasty old stinging nettles?” But the answer is that the nettles do not bother the caterpillars, but may do very well to keep away hungry birds and curious boys.