Red admiral

Vanessa atalanta

With its velvety black wings splashed with scarlet and white, this is many people’s favourite butterfly.

A large, strong-flying insect, it was formerly a migrant arriving from continental Europe in spring, but in recent years it has begun to overwinter in Britain and now adults can be regularly seen on warm January days.

Larval foodplants: stinging nettles.

Where seen: gardens, parks, any flower-rich habitat across Britain.

Current conservation status: Increase of 359 per cent 1976–2008. Migrant that has colonised in the last decade and begun regular overwintering in southern Britain. Numbers strongly increasing, but still depend on levels of migration. Increase seen as more evidence of the effects of climate change.