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Poplar Admiral, One of Earth’s Biggest Butterflies

Limenitis populi - Großer Eisvogel

Poplar Admiral (Limenitis populi) butterflies. Image via Wikipedia

Poplar Admiral (Limenitis populi) butterflies were once native to much of Europe and many parts in Asia. Now they are very rarely seen.

Size and Markings

Poplar Admiral butterflies are big! They are some of the largest butterflies in Europe.

The wingspread of male Poplar Admirals can be from 2.6 inches (6.6 cm) to 3 inches (7.7 cm). The females can be even larger: from 3.22 inches (8.2 cm) to 3.34 inches (8.5 cm).

The upper wing surface is dark brown with white spots. The white stripe is surrounded by orange and blue borders.

Female Poplar Admirals have distinct broad white lines over their back wings. The males either lack the lines or have lines that are narrower and fainter.

Notice the difference in markings between the male (top) and female (bottom) in the illustration on the right. 

The underside of the wings is light, orange (darker and less yellowish than in the illustration).

Where to Find Them

Poplar Admirals In Europe, they live in deciduous forests of aspen (Populus tremula) or black poplar (Populus nigra) trees grow because the caterpillars eat the leaves of only tree species.

Black Poplar (Populus nigra - Plantierensis Gr...
In Japan they eat Populus maximowiczii and will eat many varieties of willow (Salix sp.) in captivity.

According to Wikipedia, Poplar Admirals “are attracted to foul smells, such as those given off by carrion or dung. They use their proboscis to draw important minerals from the sap of trees, from the ground or also from sweat. They do not visit flowers.


The caterpillars are green with black and brown markings and a reddish brown head. Its sides are black. It eats leaf buds and new leaves.

In August the caterpillars, which are still quite small, make a cocoon, or pupa, from a leaf that they cut out and roll up. They spend the winter in this cocoon and then emerge from it before the leaves come out in the spring.

Where there are no large aspen forests, such as high in the Alps, the Admiral Poplars can be found in small aspen groves. In southeast France in the department of Alpes-Maritimes, they have been seen flying through large open spaces.

Female Poplar Admirals are harder to find than the males. They tend to stay in the tops of the trees and seldom get near the ground.

The Poplar Admiral (Limenitis populi) belongs to the heliconiine clade of the Nymphalidae family.

For more information, see Wikipedia:


Poplar Admiral is now an endangered species. They have become scarce, mainly because most of the aspen forests they depend on have been cleared to make room for pine farms.

Limenitis populi ussuriensis, a subspecies of the Poplar Admiral.

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Tags: Poplar Admiral butterfly, poplar admiral one of earth8217s biggest butterflies, poplar admiral, limenitis populi ussuriensis, European butterflies, aspen forests

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