JoinDonateMy Account

Vanessa gonerilla gonerilla

Red admiral


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. Our red admiral was announced NZ's Bug of the Year in 2024!

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.

Host Plant
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.
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.
50-60 mm wingspan.
Overwinter as adults. Long-lived, surviving up to six months (summer) and nine months (overwintering).
Most frequently seen during summer.
Photo by Zac Warren
Photo by Angela Moon-Jones
Photo by Peter de Lange

Sign up for our free e-news

Be kept posted about our special offers, events and news weekly. Better yet, become a financial member of the MBNZT