Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral, Admiral, Le Vulcain)

Vanessa atalanta, also called Red Admiral or Admiral is a very eye-catching butterfly from Palaearctic ecozone (Europe). The first description was in 1758 by Linnaeus. With a wingspan of 5.0– 6.5 cm the Red Admiral is a small member of the family NYMPHALIDAE. The butterfly is black and has red bands and white spots. The Red Admiral is a migrant butterfly.

Photos for easy identification

Photo © by Thomas Neubauer; 23.07.2006 Botanic Garden Vienna
Photo © by Thomas Neubauer; 15.08.2007 Schmetterlingsparadies Langschlägerwald
Photo © by Thomas Neubauer; 23.07.6 Botanic Garden Vienna

These are nice photos of Vanessa atalanta (Red Admiral, Admiral, Le Vulcain). Vanessa atalanta is a member of the family NYMPHALIDAE from Palaearctic (Europe).


The forewings are black. The margin is ridged. On the wing leading edge there is a white spot. In the pinion there is a chain of little white spots. There is a broad, red band on the wing.
The underside is a copy from upside, but there are some differences. The pinion is grey. The broad band is pink. Between the band and the big white spot there is a blue ring. 

The hind wings are black or dark brown. At the margin there is a red band with little black points. At the beginning of the red band there are two blue spots.
The underside is dark brown and marmorate. The margin is grey.

The body is dark brown or black.

Sex differences: None


The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) is a very eye-catching butterfly of the Palaearctic ecozone (Europe) and Nearctic ecozone (North America). The distribution include whole Europe,  the North of Africa and North America. You can see the Red Admiral until 2000 m sea level.

This world map shows the ecozones in which this butterfly is distributed.

Flight period

The flight period of the Red Admiral is from May to Oktober.

Larval food


Photo © by Thomas Neubauer
Photo © by Thomas Neubauer
Photo © by Thomas Neubauer

General information

The first description of this butterfly was in 1758 by Linnaeus. There is only one subspecies.

The caterpillar is black or tawny with a yellowish strip at sinde and it is thorny. The pupa has no silken girdl. This species overwinters as imago.

Photo © by Thomas Neubauer
Photo © by Thomas Neubauer
Photo © by Rudolf Faustmann

Here you can see the caterpilla of Vanessa atalanta.

(copy 2)

Photo © by Thomas Neubauer
Photo © by Thomas Neubauer

Here you can see the pupa of Vanessa atalanta.

Protection provisions / Red List

Similar and closely-related species

Vanessa cardui [Linnaeus, 1758] (Painted Lady, Distelfalter, La Belle Dame)   

Vanessa gonerilla [Fabricius, 1775] AUSTRALASIA / INDOMALAYA  

Vanessa vulcania [Godart, 1819] (Canary Red Admiral, Kanarischer Admiral)  

Scientific name

Vanessa atalanta Linnaeus 1758


 Red Admiral
 Le Vulcain
 Amiralfjäril; Amiral
 Rusałka admirał
Babočka admirál
Babôčka admirálska

Classification / Taxonomy / Family tree

To the family tree (Genus: VANESSA)...




To the top

Back to family Nymphalidae from PALAEARCTIC (EUROPE)


Apatura iris
Inachis io
Nymphalis antiopa
Apatura iris
Vanessa atalanta
Papilio machaon
Pierides sp.
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