E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Limenitis lorquini itelkae Fabricius, 1807
Lorquin's Admiral; White Admirals
Family: Nymphalidae (Brushfoots)
Species account authors: Crispin Guppy and Jon Shepard.
Extracted from Butterflies of British Columbia
The Families of Lepidoptera of BC
Introduction to the Butterflies of BC
Photo of species

© Norbert Kondla  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #5330)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Limenitis lorquini itelkae in British Columbia
Details about map content are available here.

Species Information


Lorquin's Admirals are large black butterflies with a broad white band across the middle of the wings. The forewings have orange red tips on both the dorsal and ventral surfaces. The white bands crossing the wings are broken into distinct spots by wide black veins. Females are larger and have more well developed markings than males. Hybrids between Lorquin's Admirals and White Admirals have a mixture of the characters of the two species.

Immature Stages

Eggs are thimble-shaped, with deep hexagonal pitted cells; the edges or "corners" where the cells meet are drawn out into short, fine glassy hairs. They are pale green and the surfaces of the pits have a shiny, glassy effect (GAH). First instar larvae have a very large dark brown head and an olive green body with two pairs of dark tubercles on the thorax and two pairs on the abdomen (GAH). In mature larvae from Vernon, the head is pale lilac to pale mauve tan, and is bilobed with one pair of modified scoli on top of each lobe. The body is dark brown purple to grey mauve, with the back mostly white, washed with pale mauve. There is a mauve white line on each side of the abdomen (Sugden 1970). Pupae have a large keel projecting from the back of the thorax. The wings and the back of the abdomen are dark olive grey; the thorax is dull purplish and mottled with white. The rest of the abdomen is dirty white, shaded with grey and black on the sides and in a broad double ventral band (Dyar 1891).


The subspecies name burrisonii Maynard, 1891 (TL: here restricted to the vicinity of Landsdowne, BC) has previously been applied to Limenitis lorquini in BC, Washington, and Oregon. The settlement of Landsdowne existed from 1889 to at least 1892 where Armstrong is now located, with the Armstrong family being among the first settlers (Williams 1889, 1892). L. lorquini and L. arthemis are found in the area, and hybrids between the species frequently occur. L.l. burrisonii was named by Maynard (1891), with a reasonably detailed description. He then stated that "there is considerable variation from the type towards typical lorquini …" This demonstrates that the description was of a single specimen, which is the holotype. L. lorquini adults in the vicinity of the type locality never have the combination of characters given in the original description, but lorquini x arthemis hybrids are always very similar to that description. The holotype, as originally described, is phenotypically intermediate between interior BC L. lorquini and L. arthemis, and was a hybrid. This is consistent with the conclusion of Layberry et al. (1998). The name burrisonii is therefore unavailable but enters into homonymy (ICZN Article 23.8) and is not available for reuse.

The name maynardi Field, 1936 (TL: Vancouver, BC), which might have applied to the southwestern BC populations, was proposed as a "transitional form" of L.l. burrisonii (Field 1936). As a form name, maynardi is unavailable for use as a subspecies name, contrary to Perkins and Perkins (1966). As a result there are no valid subspecies names to apply to the L. lorquini populations in BC; names and descriptions for two subspecies are provided here.

Limenitis lorquini itelkae Guppy, new subspecies. Limenitis lorquini itelkae has smaller orange red forewing tips, the wing tips are a darker red, and the white band on the upperside of the wings is narrower than in the nominate subspecies. It has a paler ventral wing surface and larger white markings, and more of them, than subspecies ilgae (below). The red brown ground colour of the hindwing underside is lighter than in subspecies ilgae, and there is a cluster of white markings in the basal area of the hindwing in subspecies itelkae that is missing from subspecies ilgae. Types. Holotype: male, BC, Keremeos, 1 mile N of Hwy 3A on Mt. Apex Rd., 8 June 1982, C.S. Guppy; a label "HOLOTYPE / Limenitis lorquini / itelkae Guppy" is attached. The holotype is deposited in the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, BC, CAN. Paratypes: 8 males, 1 female, BC, 8 km. E Cawston, 1 July 1978, J. and S. Shepard (JHS); 1 female, BC, Kilpoola L., 1 July 1996, J. and S. Shepard (JHS); Osoyoos, Anarchist Mountain, 1 June 1975, C.S. Guppy (CSG).

Limenitis lorquini ilgae Guppy, new subspecies. In Limenitis lorquini ilgae, the upperside of the wings is similar to that of subspecies itelkae, except for somewhat wider black veining separating the white spots composing the white band across the wings. The extent and variability of the orange red forewing tips is similar for the two subspecies. In subspecies ilgae, the ventral hindwing surface is a darker, richer red brown ground colour compared with subspecies itelkae, and there are no white markings at the base of the ventral hindwing. Types. Holotype: male, BC, Bamberton,Jones Creek Road to Oliphant Lake, 9 July 1988, C.S. Guppy; a label reading "HOLOTYPE / Limenitis lorquini / ilgae Guppy" is attached. The holotype is deposited in the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, BC, CAN. Paratypes: 6 males, 1 female, same data as holotype (CSG); 1 male, BC, Bamberton, 0.5 km south of cement plant, 23 June 1989, C.S. Guppy (CSG); 1 male, BC, Duncan, Mt. Prevost summit, 12 July 1987, C.S. Guppy (CSG); 2 males, 1 female, BC, Malahat, 17-Mile Road, 1 July 1987, C.S. Guppy (CSG); 1 female, BC, Mt. Benson, headwaters of Wolf Creek, 24 June 1989, C.S. Guppy (CSG); 2 males, BC, Mt. Brenton Road, 16 July 1995, J. and S. Shepard (JHS); 2 males, BC, Uplands Park, Vanc. Isl., 2 June 1995, Jon H. Shepard (JHS); 1 female, BC, powerline at Shawnigan L. - Mill Bay Road, 24 May 1995, Jon H. Shepard (JHS); 1 male, BC, Fitzgerald, 26 June 1995, C.S. Guppy (JHS).

Genus Description

The name Limenitis is derived from the Greek limenitis (harbour keeping), an epithet applied to deities who protected harbours. Fabricius may have derived the name from the fact that the first specimen of an admiral came from the harbour town of Leghorn (Emmet 1991). More probably, however, it is derived from the male's defence of a territory based on a favourite perch site, analogous to an admiral protecting a harbour. The common name "admiral" may refer to one function of an admiral being to protect harbour towns, in much the same way as the male butterflies protect a favourite perch site. Since the common name pre-dated the Latin name, the Latin name may be derived from the common name. Holland (1898) first used the common name "white admirals" for the genus.

Admirals in BC are black with a broad white band across the upperside of the wings, except for the Viceroy, which is orange brown with black markings. Admirals are medium-sized to large butterflies. They are strong, fast fliers, but can usually be observed while perching and slowly patrolling their territories.

All the admiral species hybridize in nature where their distributions overlap, and hybrids between Lorquin's Admirals and White Admirals are common in southern BC. During mating of all species in this genus, it is usual for the males to exhibit mid-valval flexion of the genitalia. Both valves can be seen to flex inward, perhaps stimulating the female (Platt 1979).

The generic name Basilarchia has been used by some authors for the admirals in BC. There are no significant structural differences in adults or larvae between Limenitis and Basilarchia (Layberry et al. 1998), hence we treat Basilarchia as a synonym of Limenitis. There are about 50 species of Limenitis worldwide.


Lorquin's Admirals are primarily univoltine, but have a partial second generation. The first generation commences flight in mid to late May, and the partial second generation extends the flight period to early August. In the Southern Interior there is a fragmentary third brood at least in some years, which is in flight in September and October. In California part of the offspring of the first brood, and all the offspring of the second brood, hibernate as second instar larvae (Dyar 1891), which also occurs in BC. Whether eggs laid by the fragmentary third brood successfully develop into hibernating larvae is unknown. The second instar larvae hibernate in a hibernaculum built of rolled leaf and silk. Larvae build a long, thin projection out from a leaf vein, as described for the White Admiral. Sap exuded by willow stems being bored into by beetle larvae are fed on by both male and female Lorquin's Admirals, and both sexes also mud-puddle (CSG).

Lorquin's Admiral males defend territories. They prefer a territory consisting of a bare or grassy patch on a south-facing slope, with dense shrubbery or trees at the upper end. The butterflies frequently settle on shrubs or trees that are thermally optimal due to warm updrafts and probably local solar heating. Lorquin's Admiral males are frequently seen elsewhere, but the optimal territory types are always reoccupied rapidly after the resident is removed (Guppy 1970).

Larval foodplants in BC are black cottonwood, trembling aspen, willow, cotoneaster, garden apple, Oregon crab apple, ornamental Siberian crab apple, hardhack, saskatoon, chokecherry, bitter cherry, and hawthorn (Dyar 1891; Harvey 1908; Jones 1935, 1942, 1943; Sugden 1970; Emmel et al. 1971; ACJ; CSG; FIS). Larvae formerly defoliated young apple trees in Yakima Co., WA (Newcomer 1964a), which is now prevented by orchard spraying.


Lorquin's Admirals occur across southern BC in deciduous forests and riparian habitats. Subspecies itelkae occurs east of the Cascade Mountains, from Manning Provincial Park east across the Okanagan Valley and Kootenays to AB. Subspecies ilgae occurs west of the Cascade Mountains, including the Fraser River north to Lillooet, the Coast Range north to Bella Coola and Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, and west to Vancouver Island.



Lorquin's Admirals occur from southern BC and extreme southwestern AB south to Baja California and central 10. Subspecies itelkae extends from BC and AB southward east of the Cascades through WA, OR, northern ID, and northwestern MT. Subspecies ilgae occurs in southwestern BC west of the Cascade Mountains.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS5YellowNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-04-24 12:34:14 PM]
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