While we’re waiting for Monarch butterflies to leave their roosts in Mexico and make their way through South Texas, let’s take a moment to appreciate Red Admirals, a striking member of the Linnaeus family.
They show up early in the butterfly season. They host on pellitory and members of the nettles family. In the caterpillar stage, they appear blackish-grey with white flecks and harmless spikes. Their chrysalis looks like a twisted, gold-dusted dead leaf.
Red Admirals also have a reputation as one of the “friendliest” butterfly species.
“Unmistakeable and unforgettable,” reads the description of Red Admirals in the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. “The Red Admiral will alight on a person’s shoulder day after day in a garden.” Stories of the small butterflies landing on shoulders, hats and fingers, “riding” with humans are not uncommon.
If you think you might enjoy raising Red Admirals at home, check out the free tutorials on how to do so made available by the Association for Butterflies, an educational organization for hobbyist and commercial butterfly breeders.