Finding a perfect specimen of a red admiral (Vanessa atalanta), looking straight out of the chrysalis, reminded me just what striking butterflies they are. The markings are similar to the painted lady but the colours so much bolder and vivid. You cannot really mistake this species for any other butterfly, even at a disatnce.
I always look on the red admiral as a an 'English' butterfly but in fact they are largely migratory. They are extremely hardy insects and some manage to successfully hibernate and we see them emerge in early spring. By April and May we start to see an influx from the warmer south and by the late summer and early autumn we see the offspring of those early arrivals emerge along with yet more immigrants. They love to feed on rotting fruit and, depending on the weather, they can be out and about well into November and even beyond. Interestingly, there is some evidence to suggest that there is a southerly migration in autumn to warmer climes, just like some bird species.
The red admiral is so famliiar it is easy to take them for granted but we should never do that!