Adults: Upper side is black with an orangish-red median forewing band and a red band on the trailing edges of the hindwing. There are white spots on the forewing tips. Seen from below, the hindwing has a dark mottled pattern, and the forewing is marked with red, white, and blue.
Larvae: The caterpillars look different with each larval molt. The color varies and can be black, greenish, whitish, or brown, with many small warts and dark spines.
Habitat and Conservation
The species name, “atalanta,” comes from a character in Greek mythology; the orphaned Atalanta was raised in the woods by a bear and grew up to be an awesome and independent huntress.
The red admiral butterfly is also referenced in one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed novels, “Pale Fire” by Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov was an accomplished butterfly biologist.