Red Admiral Behavior

Royce J. Bitzer mariposa at
Wed Jul 1 09:37:33 EDT 1998

At 06:23 PM 6/29/98 -0500, burro at wrote:
>This summer in nw FL has been, I'm sure you've heard, extremely dry. 
>Arid, in fact.  There are virtually no butterflies here.  I see an
>occasional hairstreak, and there are a few Eastern Swallowtails now, but
>little else.  Caterpillars have dried up and so have the leaves.  Few
>wildflowers.  Nothing bloomed in my garden.  Everything is shrivelled.
>I lie.  There are some abelia and butterfly bushes, but this is an
>alarming year.  I lived in the Mojave for years.  You expect hot, dry
>and occasionally windy weather.  But not here so near the Gulf.
>Anyway...I have an air conditioning unit under a window in the living
>room.  Two to four Red Admirals visit it about 4 p.m. several nights a
>week to spiral about each other in its vortex.  They come in close to
>the unit, spiral up and are thrown out only to repeat it for an hour or
>Can anyone shed light on this?  Actually, it looks like fun.
What I think you might be seeing is the Red Admirals' territorial behavior.
 The time of day seems rather early in the afternoon, considering the
temperature and time of year, but otherwise the description seems to match.
 You might try turning off the A.C. around that time for a few days (if you
can stand the heat) to see whether or not they still come to the area.  If
so, you are probably seeing territorial behavior.  If not, they may simply
be picking up some extra warmth from the exhaust of the A.C.  For more
information on Red Admiral behavior, see my web page, "The Red Admiral and
Painted Lady Website" at


Royce J Bitzer
mariposa at
Dept. of Entomology    
110 Insectary          
Iowa State University  
Ames, Iowa  50011       
Phone: (515) 294-9958

The Red Admiral and Painted Lady Website
A web site to encourage and coordinate
field studies of territorial behavior
and migration of Vanessa butterflies                

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