Red Admiral Migration

October 01, 2009

Red admiral

Photographer: Jeanette Stafford
Summary Author
: Jeanette Stafford

October 2009 Earth Science Picture of the Day Viewer's Choice

The photo above shows a brilliant Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) butterfly alighting on fall foliage near Glasgow, Scotland. Red Admirals used to be only summer visitors to the U. K., seen between May and September. However, since the 1990s they’ve been overwintering in greater and greater numbers and are now noted in every month of the year, although generally in the more southerly and warmer parts of the U.K. Red Admiral numbers fluctuate from year to year depending on migrations from central Europe, but the resident population remains quite small. This has been an especially good summer for seeing Red Admirals in Scotland; many of which could be observed feeding on common nectar sources such as the butterfly bush or buddleia (Buddleia davidii). Most of these gorgeous butterflies are now migrating southward, in response to the shorter length of day and more frequent northerly winds. Photograph taken at Mugdock Country Park on a brisk October day a few years back, not far from Glasgow, Scotland.