How do admirals survive the winter?

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  • #48298


    Monarchs overwinter as adults – what do admirals and other butterflies do? Painted ladies? Coppers? Blues?

    Look forward to hearing from Norm… and other experts.

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  • #48408


    I was very surprised & delighted to find a Yellow Admiral butterfly inside the mosquito net that I have around plants/ cats/pupae in the garage today. I was not expecting any butterflies to hatch until spring, but it has been so mild here. There are about 17 more pupae in there, so it will be interesting to see what happens. Wendy



    Last year mid winter I found some 2nd instar yellow admiral cats on my nettles after bitter frosts and snow – I shifted them into the carport and they hatched out around September. There must have been eggs on the nettle two as I released about 30 yellows from the caterpillar castle.

    This year (although a lot milder this year) I have little tents on my nettles and released three yellows that hatched last week.

    Have yet to get a red though.



    I can only relate what I have observed this late Autumn after eggs from a Yellow Admiral were laid on nettles mid autumn. I have observed around 15 cats get to the stage of hanging in a J. They have been in sheltered areas, some in my garage, some in a very sheltered part of my deck,(well under cover). It is taking them at least 3 days to go from a J to a pupa. The weather has got progressively colder & I have 4 or 5 large cats that seem to be quite happy to stay in their nettle tents. It will be interesting to see what happens with the pupa. I will let you know if they hatch during winter.



    Thanks Norm and Terry. I do hope that they make it, it will be AWESOME!!!



    Both the red and yellow admirals overwinter as larvae, enclosed in their tents with slowed development, occasionally browsing and waiting for warmer temperatures to pupate. A few adults will overwinter, and occasionally can be seen nectaring on flowers on a sunny winters day. New Zealand winters are too cold for the Painted Lady. In Australia the adults migrate north during autumn to continue their breeding in the warmer areas, migrating south again with the onset of spring. It is during these spring movements that flights sometimes get blown off course and across the Tasman to New Zealand, mainly when a strong wind direction is favourable. The lycaenids (coppers and blues) also overwinter in larval stage, although the Long Tailed Blue is capable of breeding throughout the year where gorse is plentiful.



    My Yellow Admirals over here in the UK would not survive the winter in adult stage outside, as winters are too long and cold, hence the extra heat I give in the butterfly house to protect them from hard frosts. However the larvae can come through the winter in 2nd instar if it is a particularly mild one. As the winters are shorter and on the whole milder in New Zealand they could in the warmer parts come through in both stages mentioned. Norm will know this answer being in the actual country of New Zealand unlike me. I found the New Zealand Red admiral was hardier as an adult than the Yellow Admiral but failed to get them to become continuously brooded like the Yellows and so they died out. I will never be able to find out more about them now due to law changes in New Zealand restricting trade in this species. George W Gibbs book New Zealand Butterflies is worth purchasing as it covers all species really well and how they all overwinter.

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