Whilst the white admiral is not a common butterfly it is widespread in Dorset where the right habitat exists. It is a butterfly that likes sunny broadleaf woodland glades and rides and that is not a particularly frequent habitat type in Dorset. Where it does occur it is rarely seen in large numbers as it spends a lot of its time feeding on aphid honeydew in the upper branches of deciduous trees but it can be seen, usually the males, flying at lower levels patrolling their patch. Honeysuckle is the usual food plant chosen for the larvae.
The books suggest that the first adults emerge in mid-July and fly until the end of August. Reports here in Dorset show week 24 as the earliest they are seen and that is fairly early in July. There are then reports for every week up to week 29 and that is in mid August. The bulk of the fairly few records we have come from weeks 25 to 27 in the latter half of July and the white admiral seems to have quite a short season where it visible here in Dorset.
There records from sixteen sites in Dorset and not all are established deciduous woodland, some are mixed woodland that include conifer plantation and it seems the white admiral is quite happy about that. Holt Wood and Alners Gorse report the most sightings but that may be because they are the most watched sites where white admiral occurs.