Quick facts

Common name: white admiral

Scientific name: Limenitis camilla

Family: Nymphalidae

Habitat: deciduous woodland, woodland rides, conifer plantations

Caterpillar food plants: honeysuckle leaves

Predators: birds, lizards, frogs, toads

Origin: native

What do white admirals look like?

Caterpillars: green and covered in large, multi-branched brown spines.

Adults: black upper sides broken up by striking white bands and a brown and white mottled underwing.

Wingspan: 5-6.6cm

Not to be confused with: the purple emperor, which is larger with an iridescent purple sheen.

Credit: Papilio / Alamy Stock Photo

How do white admiral butterflies breed?

White admirals lay their eggs during late summer on honeysuckle leaves, often with strands dangling down, so that the larvae have an immediate food source when they hatch. The freshly-hatched larvae feed from the tips of the leaves. Towards the end of the summer they construct silk leaf shelters to overwinter in, reemerging in spring ready to pupate. Adults are fully developed and ready to fly from mid-June to mid-August.

Where do white admiral butterflies live?

White admirals favour shady deciduous and coniferous woodland, particularly areas with lots of bramble for adults and honeysuckle for caterpillars. They are found in southern England and a few scattered areas in Wales. They are absent from Scotland and Ireland.

Did you know?

It is rare to see more than two or three of these butterflies at a time.

Credit: Amy Lewis / WTML

Signs and spotting tips

During the summer months, keep an eye out for white admirals as they glide through shady woodland rides and clearings. While they aren’t particularly common in the UK, increase your chance of spotting one by heading to areas with lots of bramble.

Threats and conservation

The white admiral UK population spread rapidly after the 1920s, however over the last 20 years there has been a dramatic decline. The reasons for this are unclear, but it could be due to habitat loss.