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Butterflies of the Indian subcontinent
Indian Red Admiral
Vanessa indica   HERBST, 1794
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - NYMPHALINAE
Tribe - NYMPHALINI
Vanessa indica, Ultipani, Assam, India Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
There are 21 Vanessa species worldwide. The genus can be split into 2 groups - the Painted Ladies and Red Admirals. Painted Ladies are predominantly pink with dark brown markings, while the 11 Red Admiral species are black with distinctive red or orange diagonal bands on the forewings, and similarly coloured black-dotted submarginal bands on the hindwings.
The Indian Red Admiral is easily recognised by the broad squiggly band on the forewings, which is usually a pure bright red colour. In some specimens however the bands are orange, and the white apical spots may also be suffused with orange. The underside hindwings have a cryptic pattern that affords them excellent camouflage when at rest on tree trunks or on the ground.
Vanessa indica is distributed from India and Sri Lanka to China and Taiwan.
Vanessa indica, Ultipani, Assam, India Adrian Hoskins
Habitats
This species is found in open areas within temperate and tropical forests, typically along roadsides or in glades. It also occurs in gardens, parks and along the banks of rivers and streams. The adults are normally found at elevations between about 200-1500m but they are nomadic in behaviour and can be seen at higher or lower elevations during migrations.
Lifecycle

The larval foodplants in include Urtica, Girardinia and Boehmeria.

Vanessa indica, Buxa, West Bengal, India Adrian Hoskins

Adult behaviour

The adults tend to remain close to their emergence site for a few days, thus it is common to find several freshly emerged adults within a fairly confined area such as a forest glade. At these times small groups of males can often be found basking together on open ground. After a few days both sexes disperse and become solitary in behaviour. Males commonly imbibe mineralised moisture from damp ground, and also visit dung or decomposing fallen fruit. Females are more commonly observed when nectaring, and favour taller flowers.

 

 

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