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Red admiral

Vanessa gonerilla gonerilla

Kahukura

Vanessa gonerilla gonerilla red admiral Zac Warren
Photo by Zac Warren

NZ's beautiful red admiral, once common. Adults overwinter and can be seen in areas where their host plant is still present - but sadly their host plant has been seen as a weed and removed from urban areas.

There are other red admirals around the world (viz V. atalanta in North America/Europe and V. indica in Asia) but this one is considered the most beautiful with its colours truly symbolic of NZ: the red of the pohutukawa and the blue, the shades of paua.

Biostatus
Endemic
Host Plant
In the wild Urtica ferox (Ongaonga), but it will also feed on U. incisa and U. urens. Also know to feed on Parietaria debilis, P. australis, P. cardiostegia, P. judaica.
Egg
Green, ribbed and barrel-shaped, generally laid singly on leaves of nettles.
Larva
Five instars. Difficult to distinguish from a yellow admiral larva.
Pupa
Pupa about 20 mm.
Adult or Imago
Top of forewings mostly black with a central bright red bar running from front edge. White spots, fringed with light blue near tips of forewings. Hindwings are dark reddish brown, with a red patch containing four black circles. Centre of each circle is pale blue. Underside of hindwings cryptic. Underside of forewings has blue eyespot bracketed by red and white arcs.
Wingspan
50-60 mm wingspan.
Overwinters
Overwinter as adults. Long-lived, surviving up to six months (summer) and nine months (overwintering).
Range
Most frequently seen during summer.
Photo by Zac Warren
Photo by Angela Moon-Jones
Photo by Peter de Lange

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