Red admiral

Red admiral

What feasts on rotten apricots in my garden? And why it comes to do it all the way from the southern Europe?

Red Admiral is a unique butterfly, hard to confuse with any other. Even when seen from a distance and during the flight, which is fast, dynamic and full of sudden accelerations and turns calculated to confuse any potential predator,  admiral clearly identifies itself as one of europeal brush-footed butterflies (Nymphalidae). Brief flashes of red and black colors leave no doubt - red admiral is one of the largest and most beautiful butterflies living in this area.

Great feast...

It happened that this year the apricot tree had abundance of fruits. To such extent, that a lot of them was left until dropped, crashed and began - let's call it simply - to rot. It turned out that the tainted fruits, emitting a strong smell, are a irresistible lure for admirals and other "nymphs".

Although the literature reports that a red admiral butterfly (imago) feeds on nectar, including blackberry flowers, ivy, thistle and various Asteraceae plants, in practice overripe fruits are wining with any nectar. So hordes of admirals are literally stocking on them, drinking the fermented juices.

And a great party ...

I'm not an expert in butterfly's physiology and cannot explain it precisely, but it seems that this drink works for a butterfly like a vodka on people. Admirals suddenly lose their legendary vigilance and speed, and you can easily approach them with a camera and shoot really close photos.

So, knowing about that "effect", one can prepare a convienient situation for making photos, by offering them a plate full of mixture made from ripe bananas, some beer and a little of brown sugar. Just leave such mixture in open sun for few days before, so it starts to smell... well, intensely. All the butterflies after drinking such a "nectar" would then allow for a complete long photographic session - something impossible otherwise.

Sadly enough, it is not only a photographer which can take advantage from that situation. Autumn is a time of feast not only for butterflies, but for birds that are preying on them as well. "Drunken" butterflies lose to great extent their ability to fast reaction and escape. Fortunately most of them was already able to give life to the new generation.

Red admiral migrations

Red admiral is one of migrating butterflies, although it cannot compare, f.e with  painted lady (Vanessa cardui). Admirals don't migrate through thousands kilometers, and in their travels they simply follow appropriate temperatures. In fact, admirals are characteristic to souther Europe, but during late spring and summer, when it is becoming too hot for them, they are gradually moving to less sunny countries, including Poland. Further to the north they're not as common and only single specimens are seen.  When - in the autumn - it is getting colder, all admirals directs back to the south. Without any special plan, without following any routes. Some of them go to Italy, Croatia, Greece, others are just looking for a warm dark corner somewhere in a basement or attic, with hope of surviving winter in state of hibernation, like peacock butterflies.

Sistematic

KINGDOMAnimalsAnimalia
TypStawonogiArthropoda
GromadaOwadyInsecta
RządMotyleLepidoptera
RodzinaRusałkowateNymphalidae
Rodzaj Vanessa
GatunekRed admiralVanessa atalanta

 

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