It seems as if this is a bumper year for the Red Admiral Butterfly. A boom in the butterfly population is called an "irruption", and happens every 12 years or so...and we are lucky enough to witness it this year!
At first glance, you might confuse this fellow for a Monarch as their colours are similar. They are smaller, however, and almost appear like a shaggy version of the same, but if you look closer, the differences will be evident.
Wikipedia has an informative description of the admiral here.
The lifespan of these butterflies is approximately 3 months. They overwinter in Florida and Texas. Eggs are laid in their host plant, which is the Stinging Nettle. You might notice a curled leaf. This is how the red Admiral protects her eggs. She wraps the leaf around them, cuddling them and protecting them from the elements.
It is worth mentioning that the Stinging nettle does just that... It stings on contact and leaves an annoying rash. For this reason, many will remove it from their garden, but please, reconsider. Not only does the Nettle have many medicinal properties, it acts as a nursery for these beautiful little creatures.
The century mark - ContemplationMy brother-in-law Pete took this picture of my father many years ago. It's been a favorite, though, for all the reasons you might imagine: it...