These are large (up to 3” wingspan) black and white butterflies with rusty orange wingtips. The only other butterfly in our region with that combination is the California Sister (Adelpha californica). But A californica has much larger, pure orange spots, which don’t reach the wingtips. Lorquin’s Admirals can be found region wide wherever their larval host plants can be found, and since those hosts include willows, cottonwoods, aspen, apple, cherry, spirea, serviceberry, ceanothus, and many others, they can be found almost everywhere in the PNW, except the most arid places in the interior of Washington state.
Lorquin’s Admirals are wildly territorial, sallying after not only members of their own species but swallowtails, fritillaries and other large Lepidoptera. I’ve personally seen them chase away California Darner dragonflies. Bold move, that. Bob Pyle (Butterflies of the Pacific Northwest;2018) reports watching a “…male Lorquin’s launching again and again after a glaucous-winged gull.” One wonders how often that level of aggressiveness comes back to, literally, bite them.
They are a restful butterfly to watch, flying with short wingbursts and gliding more than most butterflies. And if you find one in a territorial mood they will often return to the same perch, or one very near by, after each sortie, allowing for extended viewing and multiple photo ops.
They are named after the French entomologist Pierre Lorquin (1797-1873), who collected in our region during the 1850s, and who is also commemorated in the names of the moth Macaria lorquinaria (Lorquin’s Angle Moth), and the butterfly Papilio lorquinianus, (Sea Green Swallowtail).
Size- WS up to 3”
Habitat- Anyplace there are larval hosts
Range- Region wide except very arid interior of Washington state.
Eats- Larvae are generalists feeding on many things including willows, cottonwoods, fruit trees and shrubs in the family Rosaceae.
Flight Season- Mid February to late October