Painted Lady

Vanessa cardui

Summary 5

Vanessa cardui is a well-known colourful butterfly, known as the Painted Lady and is a long distance migratory species. This butterfly has a strange pattern of flying in a sort of screw shape.

Description 6

Size: 54-58 mm. Unmistakable.The forewings are brown. On the wing leading edge there is a big white spot. The wing is black and there is a chain of little white spots. There is a chain of big, black spots on the wing. The underside is a copy from upside, but there are some differences. The wing is grey. Nearby the body there is a pink area. The hind wings are brown. At the margin there are three chains of black spots. In the middle of the wing there is a black spot. The underside is brown and marmorate. At the margin there is a chain of little eyes. The body is brown. Sex differences: None. The caterpillar reaches 2.8 cm in length, has a black body with white dots, yellowish-black spines, and a yellow line along each side .

Larva Description 7

Larva reaches 2.8 cm in length. Larvae vary in color, they are grayish-brown or darker, and darker at each end than in the middle. They have a yellow stripe down the back and along each side, and many spines on their back and sides.

Larval Host Plants 8

Larvae prefer the leaves of plants in the daisy family (Asteraceae) especially thistles, but can eat many different kinds of plants. Host plants are mostly herbaceous, but rarely shrubs or trees, and include species from many families, especially preferring Asteraceae, and sometimes is a pest on Iowa soybeans (Fabaceae). Adult painted ladies sip nectar from flowers, and sometimes take "honeydew" from aphids (See Aphids).

GTM Occurrence 9

The Painted Lady is considered a frequent species at the GTM. Most observations are in the open habitat along Transect A. Only one observation was made on the Marsh Pond Overlook, Transect B. This species had a single observation in January, 2008; has been seen in April, May, September, and October with peak abundance in September. The Painted Lady was absent at the GTM from 2009-2011. There have been 48 specimens observed as of December 28, 2015.

Distribution 10

Vanessa cardui, the painted lady, is resident to southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, south to Venezuela, the Bahamas and Antilles. It is the most widely distributed butterfly in the world, occurring also in Eruasia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere (Scott 1986). Hightly migratory, it migrates throughout the North America. Habitats are everywhere, mostly in open or disturbed areas. Individuals overwinter as adults, but only in mild winters or in the south. There are multiple flights all year in south Texas, Florida and California, with migrations many thousands of kilometers between spring to fall (Scott 1986).

Habitat 11

Painted Lady Butterflies are found almost anywhere, but they prefer brightly lit and open environments like clover fields, flowery meadows and hilly country.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: tundra ; taiga ; desert or dune ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest ; mountains

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp ; bog

Other Habitat Features: suburban ; agricultural

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Marko Kivelä, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), https://www.flickr.com/photos/marko_k/229862924/
  2. (c) loarie, some rights reserved (CC BY), uploaded by Don Loarie, http://www.flickr.com/photos/57556735@N08/6186706259
  3. (c) Robert Pittman, some rights reserved (CC BY-ND), https://www.flickr.com/photos/50144889@N08/8138672146/
  4. (c) gtmresearchreserve, all rights reserved, uploaded by GTMResearchReserve, http://www.inaturalist.org/photos/2858866
  5. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanessa_cardui
  6. (c) Bibliotheca Alexandrina, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/15643038
  7. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) Bibliotheca Alexandrina, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/15643038
  8. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/25067595
  9. (c) GTMResearchReserve, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)
  10. (c) Leslie Ries, some rights reserved (CC BY), http://eol.org/data_objects/20605253
  11. (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/25067590

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