The Yellow or Australian Admiral (Vanessa itea) is a butterfly native to Australia, New Zealand, Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. The Māori name is kahukowhai, which means "yellow cloak". The Yellow Admiral is a member of the family Nymphalidae, the sub-family Nymphalinae as well as the tribe Nymphalini. 
It is a medium-sized butterfly, with a variable wingspan of 48 to 50mm in Tasmania, and 48 to 55mm in New Zealand. The upper side of the forewings are dark brown to black toward the outer edges, with three small white patches and a wide, bright yellow bar, and dull red nearer the body. The rear wings are dull red with a black border, and a row of black circles with light blue centres near the edge. The underwings are very different - the rear wing is various shades of brown with cryptic, irregular markings; the underside of the forewing has a blue 'eye' on a black background that is highlighted by a yellow area above and below.
Distribution and habitat
Yellow Admirals are relatively common throughout their range wherever their food plants occur. They prefer open country, wastelands and gardens where stinging nettles, Urtica incisa and Urtica urens are present. It is found at up to 1000m above sea level.
It is a strong, fast flier, and is thought to survive wind-blown travel from Australia to New Zealand, across the Tasman Sea.
The caterpillars vary from black to grey, yellow-green or brown, with lighter coloured lines and spots running laterally along its back. They are covered in several rows of spiny protrusions. They have six true legs, and ten prolegs.
They prefer to eat nettles and, depending upon availability, feed on Urtica incisa, Urtica urens, Parietaria debilis, and Pipturus argenteus, Parietaria australis, Parietaria cardiostegia, Parietaria judaica, and Soleirolia soleirolii. They feed at night; during the day they hide in a curled leaf for protection.
The flight period of the adult covers all the warmer months of the year and so varies with location, e.g. in Tasmania it is from November to May, while in Victoria it is from September to April. Individuals may live for several months. The adults feed on nectar from available flowers, and sometimes sap seepage from trees. Normally the last of the seasons brood survive as larvae until the next season, but in some areas it survives as a dormant adult over winter.
- "1. Australian admiral". Australian Insect Common Names. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Australia). 19 September 2004. Retrieved 2008-09-20.
- Daley, Elizabeth (2007). Wings: An introduction to Tasmania's winged insects. Riffles Pty Ltd.
- Leonie Clunie (23 August 2001). "Bug identification - Yellow Admiral". Retrieved 2009-07-16. "also occurs in Australia"
- Some sites say 60mm
- "Morwell National Park - Species - Vanessa itea". Retrieved 2009-07-16.
- "Vanessa itea". 16 July 2009. Retrieved 20 July 2009.[dead link]
- R. Grund (23 May 2008). "Vanessa itea data sheet". Retrieved 20 July 2009.
- Leonie Clunie (23 August 2001). "Bug identification - Yellow Admiral Caterpillar". Retrieved 20 July 2009.
- "Morwell National Park - Species - Vanessa itea". Retrieved 20 July 2009.
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