Lorquin’s Admiral is a striking butterfly species known for its black and white wing patterns. Found in various habitats, from woodlands to urban gardens, these butterflies are a delightful sight for nature lovers. With a wingspan ranging from 2 to 2 5/8 inches, Lorquin’s Admiral stands out due to its unique combination of orange-brown forewing tips and reddish-brown undersides with white markings.
The caterpillars of this species feed on a variety of host plants, such as wild cherry (Prunus), willows (Salix), poplar and cottonwood (Populus), and even orchard trees. As they undergo metamorphosis, the caterpillars transform into the eye-catching butterflies that many people admire. Keep an eye out for these fluttering wonders during the warmer months, and you might just catch a glimpse of this beautiful species.
Basic Information about Lorquins Admiral
Lorquin’s Admiral is a butterfly species that belongs to the genus Limenitis. It is often found in the states of California and Oregon, where it inhabits a range of habitats.
- Forewing length: 26-36mm
- They are of medium size
The wingspan of the Lorquins Admiral butterfly ranges from 2 to 2 5/8 inches (5.1 – 6.7 cm). This contributes to its distinctive appearance, which includes black, white, and reddish-brown colors on its wings.
Lorquin’s Admiral can be found in the following areas:
- Western North America
Their habitat typically consists of woodland edges, riparian corridors, and urban gardens.
|2 – 2 5/8 inches
Life Cycle and Behavior
Lorquin’s Admiral butterflies lay their eggs on host plants, typically on willow tree leaves. These eggs are small and round, often resembling bird droppings to camouflage from predators.
As larvae, they go through stages called instars. Caterpillars tend to be solitary and feed on the leaves of their host plants. Their appearance mimics bird droppings to deter potential predators.
Adult Lorquin’s Admiral butterflies are territorial and can be found flying along willow-lined streams and perching territorially. They are known to visit a variety of flowers, such as California Buckeye and Buttonbush.
The flight season for these butterflies lasts from April to October. This period offers ample opportunity for mating and laying eggs.
Lorquin’s Admirals tend to have multiple broods annually. Adult butterflies emerge from their chrysalis with a lifespan of several weeks, which allows them to maintain continuous generations throughout the season.
In summary, the Lorquin’s Admiral butterfly life cycle is characterized by its unique usage of host plants for egg-laying and larval feeding, their bird dropping-like appearance as a defense mechanism, a flight season spanning from April to October, and multiple generations throughout the year.
Host Plants and Diet
Lorquin’s Admiral butterfly mainly relies on two types of host plants:
- Willows (Salix spp.): These deciduous trees and shrubs provide a suitable environment for the larvae to feed and develop.
- California Buckeye (Aesculus californica): This tree is another host plant commonly found in California.
Lorquin’s Admiral caterpillars feed specifically on the leaves of their host plants. They have a particular preference for:
- Glabrous, green-leaved willows: These smooth-leaved willows are commonly found in their natural habitat 1.
- Cottonwood (Populus spp.): In some cases, caterpillars might feed on leaves from cottonwood trees, although willows are their primary choice.
Adult Lorquin’s Admirals have a different diet than their larval stage, consisting of:
- Nectar: Adult butterflies primarily feed on nectar from various flowers, such as Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon californicum).
- Sap: Lorquin’s Admirals might also consume tree sap as a source of nutrients.
- Decaying fruit: Sometimes, the butterflies are seen feeding on rotting fruits.
- Dung: Adult Lorquin’s Admirals might occasionally be attracted to dung, as it provides a source of essential minerals 2.
Habitat and Distribution
Lorquin’s Admiral (Limenitis lorquini) is a characteristic riparian species found in regions spanning from California to Oregon. This butterfly thrives near willow-lined streams, where it often perches territorially. Its natural habitat includes:
- Sea level to 8000′ elevation
- Willow, poplar, and cottonwood trees
To attract Lorquin’s Admiral to your garden, consider the following:
- Plant willow trees (Salix) as caterpillar hosts
- Include wild cherry (Prunus) for additional caterpillar food
- Provide flowering plants like California Buckeye, Buttonbush, and Yerba Santa as nectar sources for adult butterflies
|Lorquin’s Admiral (L. lorquini)
|California Sister (A. californica)
|Wingspan (in inches)
|2 – 2 5/8
|2 5/8 – 3 3/8
|Caterpillar Host Plant
|Willow, wild cherry
|Adult Butterfly Nectar Source
|California Buckeye, Buttonbush
|Sap, rotting fruit, nectar
Note that Lorquin’s Admirals mimic the inedible California Sister butterfly, which shares its habitat.
Similar Species and Identification
The California Sister is a butterfly species that can sometimes be mistaken for the Lorquin’s Admiral due to their similar appearance. Both species have dark backgrounds with white stripes. Some key differences, however, include:
- California Sister has an orange outer margin on the forewing, while Lorquin’s Admiral has a white median band (source).
- California Sisters tend to be larger with a wingspan of 2.5 to 3 inches, while Lorquin’s Admiral has a wingspan of 2 to 2 5/8 inches (source).
Weidemeyer’s Admiral is another butterfly species similar to the Lorquin’s Admiral. They both belong to the same genus, Limenitis, and share similar patterns and colors. Here are some distinctions:
- Weidemeyer’s Admiral has a reddish-orange band on the hindwing, which Lorquin’s Admiral lacks (source).
- Weidemeyer’s Admiral usually has a larger wingspan, ranging from 2.5 to 3 inches, compared to Lorquin’s Admiral’s wingspan.
|Wingspan (in inches)
|2.5 – 3
|2.5 – 3
|2 – 2 5/8
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Lorquin’s Blue
Subject: Lorquins Blue
Location: Algarve, Portugal
April 22, 2016 3:05 pm
Last year I sent you a picture of a Large Blue. Having just got back from Portugal I thought you might like this photo of a Lorquins Blue, a tiny butterfly that has most of its range in North Africa but just reaches the far south of Portugal and Spain
Thanks so much for sending us your image. First Nature has some very nice images of the Lorquin’s Blue, Cupido lorquinii, and the site states: “Lorquin’s Blue is essentially a butterfly of northern Africa, but its range extends across to the Algarve region of Portugal and into southern Spain. You can expect see these pretty little insects in the Algarve in May.”
Letter 2 – Lorquin's Admiral
Could you tell me, is this a red admiral? I took the photo in Boring, Oregon, just outside of Portland. Thanks!
We are excited this is NOT a Red Admiral. It is a Lorquin’s Admiral, Limenitis lorquini, and it ranges in the Pacific Northwest. It is a new species for our site, hence the excitement.
Letter 3 – Lorquin's Admiral
Can you help me by identifying this beautiful butterfly that i photographed on a whitewashed driveway on south Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. Thanks so much! Yrs,
This gorgeous butterfly is the Lorquin’s Admiral, Limenitis lorquini.
Letter 4 – Lorquin’s Admiral
Subject: Butterfly ID
Grant’s Grove, Kings Canyon National Park, California
July 30, 2014
hi what’s that bug?
this butterfly was seen along the “stump trail” area of grant’s grove, in king’s canyon national park CA, on july 14, 2014.
is it a california sister or a lorquin’s admiral? and what is the difference?
This is a perfectly timed submission as we just posted a closed-winged view of what we believe to be a Lorquin’s Admiral, but since we could not see a dorsal view, we can’t be certain. This is most certainly a Lorquin’s Admiral, and it is wonderful to get two views of the same individual. According to Butterflies Through Binoculars The West, on the Lorquin’s Admiral: “FW [forewing] apex has a linear orange patch that reaches the outer margin.” The same source states of the California Sister: “FW apex has a large round orange patch that doesn’t reach the outer margin.” That said, the same source indicates the two species look very similar, but the Lorquin’s Admiral is usually associated with willows and poplars, especially near streams while the California Sister is generally associated with oak woodlands.
Letter 5 – Lorquin's Admiral Caterpillar
Subject: caterpillar with two yellow bumps on back.
Location: ellensburg Washington
June 19, 2012 6:39 pm
I live in Ellensburg Washington, and today I found a caterpillar on a leaf in my apple tree. Its about 1 1/2 inches long with two yellow/orange bumps side by side on its back near its head. It has two antenna kinda has spikes coming from them. And a mouth/ head that looks rough like sand paper. What could this be?
We are very excited to post your photo as it is the only photo we have of the caterpillar of a Lorquin’s Admiral, Limenitis lorquini. We matched it to a photo on BugGuide and elsewhere on BugGuide, it states: “Larvae feed on willows, poplars, chokecherry” so we can add apple to that list. We have a few photos of the adult Lorquin’s Admiral on our site, but again, this is a first for the caterpillar.
Letter 6 – Lorquin’s Admiral, Weidemeyer’s Admiral or interspecies hybrid???
Subject: Butterfly – Ashland, OR
Location: Siskiyou Mtns. – Ashland
July 28, 2014 9:49 pm
My friend has claimed this as a Lorquin’s admiral. Is it?
We wish you had access to a dorsal view as the orange-brown wingtips on the Lorquin’s Admiral are absent in other Admirals. This is most definitely an Admiral in the genus Limenitis, and there is a good chance that it is a Lorquin’s Admiral, but we have some other possibilities. There is a strong resemblance to the Lorquin’s Admiral posted to BugGuide, but there is also a resemblance to this Weidemeyer’s Admiral posted to BugGuide. It might also be an interspecies hybrid or other aberration as the genus has many examples represented on BugGuide. According to BugGuide: “Lorquin’s Admiral has brown wing tips, above and is much more brown on the underside. Its range encompasses the west coast.” If we limit our response to our top choice, based on your location and the brownish coloration, we have to go with Lorquin’s Admiral.
It didn’t look quite right for a Lorquin’s. Hybrid is a good possibility. Sorry but that’s the only pic we’ve got.