Saluting the Red Admiral

Butterfly made daily afternoon visits during early summer days at West Virginia State Park

A Red Admiral butterfly hanging out on the deck  of a cabin at Bluestone State Park in Hinton, W.Va. in late June 2016. Photo by Rick Carter.

By Michael M. Barrick

HINTON, W.Va. – This past June I had the fortunate opportunity to spend several days with a lifelong friend at a cabin at Bluestone State Park in southern West Virginia. Weather was ideal, so we spent our late afternoons just hanging out on the deck. My friend, always ready with his camera, noticed a butterfly flying about in a manner that made us question its sobriety.

Bluestone Lake near Hinton, W.Va. Photo by Michael M. Barrick.

Eventually, it landed. Just about eight feet from us. He would sit on the banister of the wooden deck. This became an afternoon ritual. So, as you can see, my buddy Rick Carter had the opportunity to get some great shots of the Red Admiral butterfly. It wasn’t until we saw the photos up close that we appreciated this critter’s attitude. So, upon our return to civilization, I contacted some friends at The Center for Biological Diversity and they quickly identified our visitor. The Red Admiral likes moist, temperate environments, which is why we would find them visiting the thick Appalachian woods overlooking a lake.

Here is a little of what the Butterflies and Moth website has to say about the Red Admiral (to learn more cool stuff, visit the website):

Life History: The Red Admiral has a very erratic, rapid flight. Males perch, on ridgetops if available, in the afternoon to wait for females, who lay eggs singly on the tops of host plant leaves.

Adult Food: Red Admirals prefer sap flows on trees, fermenting fruit, and bird droppings; visiting flowers only when these are not available. Then they will nectar at common milkweed, red clover, aster, and alfalfa, among others.

In addition, our friend Tierra Curry with The Center for Biological Diversity sent this along: In her words, “Check out this amazingness.” Learn how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

Bluestone Lake near Hinton, W.Va. Photo by Debbie Smith.

Saluting the Red Admiral! Just another reason to enjoy a quiet summer afternoon in The Mountain State.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2017

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