Vanessa atalanta - photo © Ch. Almpantakis

Vanessa atalanta, Crete - photo © Ch. Almpantakis

Vanessa atalanta


Vanessa atalanta is a butterfly of the family Nymphalidae on the island of Crete, Greece.

Scientific name

Vanessa atalanta (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common name

Red Admiral


Family: Nymphalidae > Subfamily: Nymphalinae > Tribus: Nymphalini > Genus: Vanessa


Male to female: 55-60 mm


Both sexes have a similar appearance. The upper side of their forewings is dark brown near the inner margin in the basal area, and black color with white spots in the triangle formed by the apex, external margin, and costa. There is a characteristic red band crossing the wing from anal angle to costa.

On the underside of the forewings, there is the same red band and several white marks on a black background where are also yellow, brown, and blue marks.

The upper side of the hindwings is dark brown colored with a red band in the submarginal area and small blue marks. The underside is also dark brown with various colors and shapes forming a complicated pattern.


Males are highly territorial, chasing after Commas and Peacocks as well as other Red Admirals.  Red Admirals are one of the more intelligent butterfly species; they have the ability to habituate. Upon entering their territory an intruder is immediately investigated.

In the case of human intruders, a Red Admiral will circle around several times and will try to ascertain whether the person poses a threat. If he or she appears to be harmless the butterfly gets progressively braver.

At night or on cold overcast days, and during the winter months, they roost head-downwards on the trunks or lower branches of trees, where the dark underside of the wings provides them excellent camouflage.


Vanessa atalanta in Crete lives mainly in fields of medium-altitude, forest edges, gardens, orchards, ruderal areas, wet meadows.

Food plant

The larva feeds on Urticaceae plants.

Flight Period

The butterfly flies in 2 generations per year.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

The butterfly has a unique appearance in Crete and can’t be confused with other butterflies of the island.


Least Concern (LC)

(*European Red List of Butterflies, 2010)

Vanessa Atalanta Distribution Map

*based on

Vanessa atalanta location map based on greek butterflies distributions map by L.N. Pamperis (revised 2021)