Red Admiral

butterfly or moth
Location: Benton, AR
August 23, 2011 7:03 pm
I say butterfly and son says moth. Searched through pics til I wore myself out last night. Interesting little critter who did a marvelous job of posing. How bout settling the question and tell us more about this specimen. Thanks,
Ron Dupree
Signature: I am usually right.

Red Admiral

Dear Ron,
You are correct, but we hope you don’t gloat over this.  In your son’s defense, lists that try to oversimplify distinguishing a butterfly from a moth often cite the wing position as a factor.  Generally, moths rest with wings open, like this Red Admiral butterfly, and butterflies generally rest with wings folded over the body.  This may have led to your son’s confusion.  The Red Admiral was one of author Vladimir Nabokov’s favorite butterflies, and he poetically called it the Red Admirable, though in Russia it is also known as the Butterfly of Doom because great numbers migrated in 1881, the year Tsar Alexander II was assassinated.

I won’t gloat……….much.  We enjoy good-natured kidding and, as the one who has been around a bit more than my son, I am usually right but always ready to be corrected.  In fairness, I noted the folded wing position a few times also.  Thanks for making our wildlife viewing more enjoyable.  You do a good service…..keep up the good work.

We wanted to come back to this positively gorgeous butterfly.  Dark butterflies often spread their wings in the sun to absorb heat.  Dark Nymphalids, the Brush Footed Butterflies, often hibernate.  Red Admirals might hibernate, but Mourning Cloaks definitely do.  Butterflies that rest with their wings open often do so to absorb warmth.

Leave a Comment