When we arrived home from the airport today there were two Red Admirals fluttering around the front garden. I chose to view them as our welcoming committee.
A Red Admiral is not a Soviet naval officer but a butterfly. They’ve been present this year in limited numbers. We haven’t gotten any photographs, though, because they were always excessively jumpy and would never stay still. According to the Butterflies and Moths of North America website, Red Admirals have a “very erratic and rapid flight”.
Today was different, though. The Red Admirals were loving the ‘Fascination’ Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum) so much that Judy got a bunch of pictures while they were happily nectaring.
Actually, Red Admirals feed at flowers only when their favorite foods are unavailable. Their top choices for fine dining are tree sap, fermented fruit, and bird droppings. Yum! (Actually, fermented fruit might be OK.) So while the Culver’s root may not have been a match for bird droppings, it was certainly keeping these butterflies occupied.
An odd thing is that Red Admirals will take in salt from human sweat. They will land on your shirt and just stay there (they’ve done this to me), provided you’ve worked up enough perspiration.
Plants of the nettle family (Urticaceae) are the hosts for Red Admiral butterflies. I’ve considered planting false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica) in the garden, but nothing could induce me to plant stinging nettle (Urtica dioica).
These butterflies are fairly common. They can be found in most of North America as well as in Europe and North Africa.
Do you have Red Admirals in your garden?