This familiar and distinctive regular migrant may be found anywhere in Britain and Ireland and in all habitat types. Some over winter so there can be sightings all year round, but the largest numbers are seen in late summer and early autumn. Some fly south, a few hibernate, but most die off in the cold weather.
They feed on nectar from many flowers including Buddleia, Sedum, Clover, Hemp agrimony and Hebe, and they can be seen on rotting fruit.
The males and females both have similar patterns on their wings. The wings are mainly black with bars of red diagonally on the forewing and at the edge of the hindwing, white spots break up the outer triangle of the forewing. The undersides of the hindwing have a mottled pattern, which helps to conceal it as it roosts.