Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Red admiral

Vanessa gonerilla gonerilla Fabricius

Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae

Size range

  • Wingspan 50–60 mm. Caterpillar grows to about 36mm.


  • Endemic species.
  • Two subspecies, gonerilla Fabricius, on main islands and near offshore islands, ida Alfken on Chatham Island.

Life History

  • Adult overwinters.
  • Nectar plants such as Buddleia favoured by adults. Also seepage of sap from tree trunks, e.g. beech.
  • Caterpillars feed on stinging nettles, Urtica spp, pulling the leaves together with a few silk strands to form a protective tent. Preferred foodplant Urtica ferox.

Additional images