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.
In the wild Urtica ferox (Ongaonga), but it will also feed on U. incisa and U. urens. Also known to feed on Parietaria debilis, P. australis, P. cardiostegia, P. judaica.
Green, ribbed and barrel-shaped, generally laid singly on leaves of nettles.
Five instars. Difficult to distinguish from a yellow admiral larva.
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.
50-60 mm wingspan.
Overwinter as adults. Long-lived, surviving up to six months (summer) and nine months (overwintering).
Most frequently seen during summer.