The European breeding center of the red admiral is in the Mediterranean region and each year migrants move northwards into central and northern Europe, including the British Isles. Butterflies arriving in Britain in the spring lay eggs on the tips of stinging nettle leaves. The eggs develop into black, spiny caterpillars that live within individual tents, which they construct by spinning together the edges of a nettle leaf with silk. They also feed on nettle leaves. After about four weeks the caterpillars pupate (encase themselves in the cocoons of silk) among the nettle leaves and butterflies emerge about two weeks later. In southern Europe the butterflies are known to hibernate, but few survive winter in the British Isles and they are replaced by a new wave of migrants the following spring.
Red admirals live in a wide range of habitats, but are most frequently found in wooded countryside, parks, and gardens. The adult butterflies feed at the flowers of many nectar-bearing plants, particularly buddleia, and in the autumn are also attracted to the juices of rotting fruit.
Scientific classification: The red admiral butterfly belongs to the family, Nymphalidae. It is classified as Vanessa atalanta.