The Lorquin’s admiral is a butterfly with dark brown wings that have orange tips, and rows of white spots. The undersides of the wings are orange-brown and patterned with white spots. The caterpillars of the Lorquin’s admiral are dark brown or grey, with white patches.
The colouring of Lorquin’s admiral caterpillars and butterflies helps to protect them from predators. The splotched brown and white colouring of the caterpillar acts as camouflage, by making it look like bird droppings. The butterflies are not camouflaged, but use a technique called Batesian mimicry. Their colouring is very similar to another butterfly species called the California sister, which is unappetizing to predators. This causes many predators to avoid Lorquin’s admirals as well, even though they are edible.
Male Lorquin’s admirals are very territorial. Each male chooses a favorite perch site, and defends the area around it aggressively. In general, the best territories are bare, grassy areas on south-facing slopes, because they are the warmest areas. Lorquin’s admirals will chase away other insects and even birds that get too close!
Lorquin’s admirals usually live in deciduous forests or riparian zones, and will eat nectar or bird droppings. These butterflies preferentially feed on nectar from flowering trees and shrubs in the rose family, like oceanspray, Nootka rose, and saskatoon berry. This makes them very important native pollinators in BC. They lay their eggs on the leaves of willow, poplar, aspen, cottonwood, and other trees and shrubs, which also provide food for the caterpillars.
For more information, check out the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility species bank or E-Fauna BC.