WDEL Blog: Eclectic Hobbies with Allan Loudell

Great Red Admiral butterfly emergence & migration

Driving from the WDEL/WSTW studios to Route 202 here in northern New Castle County, I noticed many, many medium-sized butterflies in flight on a warm Friday. Some could even be observed over Route 202. Most seemed to be headed north.

With a few exceptions, these were all RED ADMIRALS, mostly dark brownish butterflies with red-orange streaks on the upper wings. (On close examination, the lower wings present a beautiful kaleidoscope of color, even some blue and green.)

Red Admiral migrations are not as well-known as those of the Monarch. But, sometimes these butterflies put on quite a show. Yet because they're SMALLER than Monarchs, people often miss these butterflies of the Vanessa genus, subspecies Cynthia, closely related to American Ladies and Painted Ladies.

Amateur lepidopterists, general entomologists, even birders around eastern North America have reported this massive migration; some are calling it the most impressive in recent years. Red Admirals have already been sighted in downtown Toronto for several weeks.

Posted at 6:52pm on May 4, 2012 by Allan Loudell

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