2011 October

The Red Admiral butterfly: military man among the ladies

by Patricia Maher

Natural History:

On May 21, 2010 I captured a Red Admiral butterfly feeding on blackberry bushes in Akron, Ohio.  One of four members of the Vanessa genus in the Nymphalinae subfamily, these butterflies are very abundant butterflies in the continental United States. The Vanessa genus includes butterflies known as Ladies (Painted Lady, American Lady, Western Lady) and the Red Admiral (The Red Admiral is not to be confused with other butterflies called Admirals that are not in this subfamily). This subfamily is widely distributed across the globe, as is the Red Admiral species itself.

The Red Admiral and its subfamily belong to the Family Nymphalidae, Brush-footed Butterflies. It has distinct coloration, and a wingspan of 1 ¾ to3 inches. It has black wings with white spots, and red bands on the forewing and hind wing. 

Origin of the name:   

Vanessa, the name of the genus, most probably refers to the girl’s name; some think it relates to Phanes of Greek myth, the mystic primeval deity of procreation and the generation of new life. (The subgenus of the other 3 species in this subfamily are named Cynthia.) 

The name of the Red Admiral itself seems to be an anomaly in this genus of Ladies.  Some believe the name originated in England as “Red Admirable” and then was corrupted to “Red Admiral.” 

The Trituration: 

The trituration was carried out by three homeopaths in Buffalo, New York, on May 22, 2010.  We had not planned to do this; it just so happened that we were getting together and I arrived with two different insect specimens ground into milk sugar the day before.  All three of us ground and scraped the substance with milk sugar to a C4 level.

The participants were three white females, two 55 years of age and one 39.  One knew what the substance was and two knew it was an insect.  (At the time I thought the specimen was a different butterfly in the same subfamily.)  Of course, the small size and homogeneity of our group of provers, as well as my familiarity with the substance meant that our process was far from perfect.  Nonetheless, clear themes emerged that will make this a useful remedy. 


It has been well documented in homeopathy that the family of Butterfly remedies largely have a great deal to do with the abandonment of children and the sense of being an unprotected child. This remedy exhibited these themes, and in particular, the theme of loss of the father is extremely strong. In addition, because the Red Admiral is the only military title amidst this genus of “ladies” the themes of war and military were also present.

Fathers going off to War; Child’s Grief at Father’s Death:

This theme was strongest and appeared immediately in the trituration.  There was tremendous grief about fathers and men in general needing to fight in war.  The amount of grief that the provers experienced was striking.

Sentimentality about the Father; identification with father’s suffering: 

Along with grief about the father there was also a great deal of sentimentality and attachment even bordering on the incestuous.  The song “Butterfly Kisses” played a central role in the trituration (see proving).

Nostalgia for the past: 

Together with sentimentality about the father there was a general expression of nostalgia for times past.

Pain, suffering, pointless/purposeful:

This theme concerned the issue of war and fighting and in particular, what our fathers who served in the military had to suffer:  “the fucking wars, the pain they cause…”


Imagery of butterflies surfaced throughout the proving, and also the focus on the song called “Butterfly Kisses.”


Throughout the proving clothes were talked about, particularly clothes of a different era.

To read the entire proving please visit www.greatlakesprovings.com

This remedy is available at Helios Pharmacy; www.helios.co.uk

Photos: Wikimedia Commons
Beentree, Vanessa atalanta, Brok, Poland, 2005
Soldier returns to Indianapolis airport; US army photo


Categories: Provings
Keywords: Red Admiral butterfly, Vanessa Atalanta, abandonment, loss of the father, military
Remedies: Vanessa atalanta


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