Vanessa atalanta (Linnaeus, 1758)


Vanessa atalanta: Adult [N] Vanessa atalanta: Adult (e.l. Tenerife 2012) [S] Vanessa atalanta: Adult (e.l. Tenerife 2012) [S] Vanessa atalanta: Upper side [N] Vanessa atalanta: Adult [N] Vanessa atalanta: Adult [N] Vanessa atalanta: Lower side [N] Vanessa atalanta: Ovum [N] Vanessa atalanta: Ovum at Parietaria (Northern Greece) [N] Vanessa atalanta: Half-grown larva at Parietaria (Greece) [M] Vanessa atalanta: Half-grown larva (Tenerife, December 2012) [M] Vanessa atalanta: Shelter of a half-grown larva [N] Vanessa atalanta: Larva (e.l. Tenerife 2012) [S] Vanessa atalanta: Larva (e.l. Tenerife 2012) [S] Vanessa atalanta: Larva (e.l. Tenerife 2012) [S] Vanessa atalanta: Larva (e.l. Tenerife 2012) [S] Vanessa atalanta: Larva [M] Vanessa atalanta: Larva [M] Vanessa atalanta: Light larva at Parietaria (Northern Greece, May 2010) [M] Vanessa atalanta: Pupa [S] Vanessa atalanta: Pupa (e.l. Tenerife 2012) [S]

Host plants:
The caterpillar lives mostly on Urtica dioica and other Urtica-species (Urtica urens etc.). In Northern Greece and the Canaries, I found many larvae also on Parietaria on walls, in Greece along with those of Polygonia egea.

Habitat:
Vanessa atalanta inhabits mostly semi-shade forest habitats, gardens, parks and only very rarely completely open terrain. The caterpillars are to be searched for in shady to partly sunny locations such as verges on woodland trails.

Life cycle:
Vanessa atalanta is a migrant butterfly that originates from the south, but can tolerate cold better than Nymphalis cardui. Regularly hibernating butterflies occur especially in lower, warm regions in Central Europe. But besides the adult also the caterpillars apparently try to hibernate. This is only successful in mild winters and warm regions. But the butterfly is still dependent on immigration in its abundance. A discussion of the distinctness of the polychrome caterpillars according to the origin of the butterflies seems to me a bit daring.

The caterpillar lives preferably along shady forest trails in a bag of nettle leaves, where it partially interrupts the sap flow. Pupation takes also place in such a shelter. Caterpillars are usually found from June to September, but also occasionally at other times. In regions with regular adult hibernation caterpillars can be observed already in May or even earlier.

Endangerment factors:
Vanessa atalanta is not endangered.

Remarks:
The imago sucks on fallen fruits in late summer and can be observed until early November. The distribution extends from North Africa across Europe and Western Asia. The butterfly is also found in North America.



Vanessa cardui | Vanessa virginiensis | Vanessa vulcanica