painted lady

(Vanessa cardui)

Conservation Status
painted lady
Photo by Bill Reynolds
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure
SNRB - Unranked Breeding

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Painted lady is a migratory, medium-sized, brushfooted butterfly. It has a wingspan of 2 to 2. Males and females look alike. The summer form is larger and brighter orange, the winter form is paler and has smaller black marks.

The outer edge of the forewing is slightly scalloped and the tip (apex) is pointed. The upperside of the forewing is orangish-brown at the base, pinkish- or reddish-orange in the median area, and brownish-orange in the postmedian and marginal areas. The margin has a broad, black border with a prominent series of white, crescent-shaped marks (lunules) on the outer margin. Within the marginal border in the apical area there is a row of round, disconnected, orange spots and a row of thin, crescent-shaped, white spots. The apical area is black with a large, elongated, postmedian, always white spot at the leading (costal) edge and a curved row of smaller, round, submarginal, white spots. A jagged, black, interrupted, median band completely isolates an orange median spot.

The hindwing is rounded and slightly scalloped with series of white lunules on the outer margin that are sometimes connected to form a white fringe. The upper side of the hindwing is brownish-orange with a orangish-brown base and four bands of black spots: a marginal band of six disconnected spots; a submarginal band of six flattened spots, the outer four disconnected, the inner two (closest to the body) connected and with blue centers; a postmedian band of four round, disconnected spots; and a median band of four irregular, more or less connected spots. The postmedian spots on the summer form have blue centers, while those of the winter form do not.

The underside of the forewing is pinkish-orange near the base, orange in the median area, grayish-brown in the apical area, with white and black markings mirroring those on the upper surface.

The underside of the hindwing is irregularly banded and mottled with light and dark brown edged with white. There are two rows of spots: a postmedian row of four large eyespots with blue centers; and a submarginal row of eight flattened blue spots rimmed with black, the inner two spots (closest to the body) connected.

The caterpillar is variable in color and up to 1¾ long. Though fierce looking, they are harmless to the touch. The thorax and abdomen may be green, yellow, or pink to nearly black. They are finely spotted and moderately covered with long, straight, hair-like structures (seta). The spots are the expanded bases of the setae. There is usually a dark stripe bordered with two thin pale stripes in the middle of the upper (dorsal) surface. There are often light-colored spots between and just below the spiracles on most abdominal segments. These spots sometimes are joined into a single broad, jagged stripe. On the thorax and each abdominal segment there is a long, thick, stiff, branched spine (scolus) in the middorsal, subdorsal, and supraspiracular regions. The head is dark and is densely covered with long, straight, unbranched, white hairs but no scoli. The base of the leg-like structure (proleg) is densely hairy.

Mature caterpillars are found from May onward.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Wingspan: 2¾ to 2

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  American lady (Vanessa virginiensis) is more orange above. The large spot in the apical area of the upperside of the forewing is often pale orange. The submarginal white spots in the apical area are smaller. The black medial band does not create an isolated orange spot. The postmedial spots on the hindwing are larger, are usually touching, and usually at least two of them have blue centers. There are only two eyespots on the underside of the hindwing, and those eyespots are larger. There is a large, pale, median band inward from the eyespots.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Fields, meadows, pastures, woodland edges, roadsides, and other open areas.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Usually two broods: early May to late May and June to mid-October

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Early stage caterpillars create solitary shelters by folding upward the sides of the leaf and securing it with silk.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

The male alternately perches on open bare ground waiting for a receptive female to fly by, and patrols and defends an area in search of a receptive female. After mating, the female lays green, ribbed, barrel-shaped eggs singly on the upperside of host plant leaves. The larva molts four times before pupating. The second brood adult migrates south in small groups in the fall, overwinters in a warmer area, returns north in large numbers in early May, and dies by late May.

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

Plants of the aster (Asteraceae) family, especially thistles (Carduus spp. and Cirsium spp.) and burdock (Arctium spp.); also legumes (Fabaceae), and mallow (Malvaceae).

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Flower nectar, mostly from 3 to 6 tall plants in the aster (Asteraceae) family.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 20, 21, 24, 29, 71.

 
  5/19/2020      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Uncommon

 
         
 

Migration

 
 

Painted lady butterflies migrate south beginning in August and continuing through November. They overwinter in the southwestern United States and in northern Mexico. They migrate north in the spring in most years, temporarily repopulating the United States and Canada. Some years they do not migrate at all. In years of much rain on the wintering grounds the northward migrations are enormous. The El Niño of 2015 is expected to last into the spring of 2016 and should bring much rain to the wintering grounds of the painted lady.

Minnesotans saw a huge influx of painted lady butterflies in the summer of 2017. Observers from the Twin Cities to Detroit Lakes and Pennington County have reported seeing “15 plus,” “dozens”, “lots and lots,” and “plentiful” painted lady butterflies. Lora in Corcoran reports them “swarming the soy bean field across the road.” Ruth in Big Stone County reports seeing “clouds of them.”

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Papilionoidea (butterflies [excluding skippers])  
 

Family

Nymphalidae (brush-foots)  
 

Subfamily

Nymphalinae (true brushfoots)  
 

Tribe

Nymphalini  
 

Genus

Vanessa  
  Subgenus Cynthia (painted ladies)  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

painted lady

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Costal margin

The leading edge of the forewing of insects.

 

Lunule

A crescent-shaped mark. On some butterflies, the marks, usually white, found in a series on the outer margin of the wing.

 

Proleg

A fleshy structure on the abdomen of some insect larvae that functions as a leg, but lacks the five segments of a true insect leg.

 

Pupa

The life stage of some insects undergoing transformation. In caterpillars, the chrysalis.

 

Scolus

A spiny, branched projection from a larval body wall, the branches terminating with a single stiff, hair-like or bristle-like tip.

 

Seta

A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like structure on butterflies and moths used to sense touch. Plural: setae.

 

Spiracle

A small opening on the surface of an insect through which the insect breathes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

Share your photo of this insect.

 
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Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.
 
 

Bobbi Johnson

 
    painted lady      
 

Alfredo Colon

 
    painted lady   painted lady  
           
    painted lady   painted lady  
           
    painted lady      
           
  ... an Ambush Bug feeds on a Painted Lady.   painted lady  
           
        painted lady  
 

Dan W. Andree

 
 

Painted Lady Butterflies...

There are so many of them in areas. Must of been a major hatch out.

  painted lady  
           
        painted lady  
 

Sarah A.

 
  they can't stay away from this sedum plant today   painted lady  
 

Lynn Rubey

 
  A Painted Lady Butterfly on Bull Thistle in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge. With the wings folded together you can see a clear veiw of the underside of this beautiful butterfly.   painted lady  
           
  A painted Lady Butterfly on purple loosestrife in The Big Stone Lake State Park Meadowbrook area.   painted lady  
           
  The underside of The Painted Lady in The Big Stone Lake State Park Meadowbrook area.   painted lady  
 

Gerry Garcia

 
    painted lady   painted lady  
           
    painted lady      
 

Norm & Peg Dibble

 
  September 2017, We have many large Autumn Joy Sedums all around the yard and every one of them had this many Painted Lady butterflies on them. It was a shocking and wonderful sight!   painted lady  
           
  Butterflies on the Joe Pye Weed also. They were everywhere. I read on the internet “Minnesotans saw a huge influx of painted lady butterflies in the summer of 2017.”   painted lady  
 

mininthecity

 
 

Painted Lady on Orange Bloom

 
    painted lady      
           
 

Painted Lady viewing Lake Superior

 
    painted lady      
 

Nanook

 
 

Sept 21, 2017 at least 100 visiting this week.

 
    painted lady      
 

Margot Avey

 
    painted lady      
 

Anne

 
  On Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 over 20 butterflies were on the sedum in our backyard - it's the first time we've ever seen this. It's been great to read about the migration and learn about Painted Lady butterflies!   painted lady  
           
        painted lady  
 

Susan

 
  Lots and lots of these beautiful butterflies on our backyard flowers…take a look. Once I counted them and there were over 40!   painted lady  
           
        painted lady  
 

Loni Gradick

 
  These seem smaller than monarchs, any ideas? I am a master gardener & have never seen them this plentiful in my yard before. Yes, I have many roses, milkweed, phlox, sedum, rudbeckia. It is a marvelous spectacle that I stop & stare in wonder many times a day.... My dog, Lucy & I dress up as monarchs & give out milkweed seeds at Halloween (candy too, of course).   painted lady  
 

Kathy Johnson

 
  I have had large numbers (15+ at a time) of painted ladies in my yard the past few weeks. They love the tithonia and the ligularia.   painted lady  
 

Faith Ann

 
  Dozens of them are feeding on the many, mature and blooming Stonecrop plants in my yard. This is the first year they have appeared in such numbers to be noticeable. I typically see several varieties of bees feeding on these plants ... this year the bees have some lovely competition!   painted lady  
 

Lora Nathan Homuth

 
  I believe we have lots of Painted Ladies in Corcoran MN right now. They are swarming the soy bean field across the road and coming to visit my perennial beds.   painted lady  
 

Bill Reynolds

 
  It's been a banner year up here for the Painted Lady Butterfly. I don't recall ever seeing the numbers in in the past like I have this year. Very large second emergence for this butterfly this year. I was just out to a patch of Burdock, in which at least 20 Ladies were working for a bit of nectar. Looking about the surrounding area there are even more working Sow Thistle and Goldenrod.   painted lady  
           
 

Painted Lady, Pennington Co. MN, 9/6/2013

 
    painted lady      
 

Tom Baker

 
    painted lady   painted lady  
           
    painted lady   painted lady  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

Upperside

 
    painted lady      
           
 

Underside

 
    painted lady   painted lady  
           
    painted lady   painted lady  
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
Painted Lady
DianesDigitals
  Painted Lady  
 
About

Copyright DianesDigitals

Painted Lady - Vanessa cardui

 
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)  
Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui)
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
  Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui)  
     

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

Share your video of this insect.

 
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Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.
 
 

Gerry Garcia

 
  painted lady 01
Published on Aug 6, 2019
 
   
 
About

painted lady (Vanessa cardui)

Lyndale Park, Minneapolis, MN

Video by Gerry Garcia

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/painted_lady.html

   
  painted lady 02
Published on Aug 6, 2019
 
   
 
About

painted lady (Vanessa cardui)

Lyndale Park, Minneapolis, MN

Video by Gerry Garcia

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/painted_lady.html

   
  painted lady 03
Published on Aug 6, 2019
 
   
 
About

painted lady (Vanessa cardui)

Lyndale Park, Minneapolis, MN

Video by Gerry Garcia

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/painted_lady.html

   
       
       
 
Other Videos
 
  Painted Lady Butterflies Develop, Emerge in Time Lapse
JCMegabyte
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Nov 13, 2008

Here we see the later life stages of several Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)Butterflies. Once the caterpillars are mature, they suspend themselves upside-down, by attaching a body part called the "cremaster" to a silken pad on the twig, much like the way Velcro works.

In about 1 day, the caterpillar sheds its final skin to complete the pupation process. Inside the pupa, the caterpillar has essentially liquified itself into a soup of cells. During the next 12-14 days, metamorphosis takes place - the cells are "re-arranged" and transformed into the adult insect. For most of this process, there is no visible change on the outside, but as the final few days approach, the developing adult butterfly can be seen through the semi-transparent pupal case. The butterfly's wing colors and pattern can be seen to darken. Finally, the fully developed adult separates from the pupal shell about an hour before it emerges, a process called "eclosion".

Once the adult emerges, it takes only a few minutes to expand its wings by pumping a body fluid into the wings' vein structure. After a couple of hours, the fluid dries and hardens, leaving the wings rigid enough propel it in flight.

The soundtrack is "Painted Ladies Theme" from the StarSpin EP/CD by Technician (yours truly), MP3 downloads and CDs available at the Technician website: HTTP://technician.jcmdi.com

Enjoy the show! :-)

Note: This is copyrighted material, however, you may download this footage directly from YouTube and use it free of charge in your own non-profit/non-commercial YouTube videos. The full free usage policy, and copyright notice/claim and partner ad info can be found here:
http://jcmdi.com/stockfootage/faq.html#freeusage and
http://jcmdi.com/stockfootage/faq.html#partner
(please read both sections before using JCMDI material - thanks!)

 
  ヒメアカタテハの蛹化 Painted Lady butterfly pupation time lapse
jmkn58710
 
   
 
About

Published on May 20, 2013

ヒメアカタテハの蛹化。painted lady butterfly life cycle. Painted Lady. Painted Lady Butterfly emerging. painted lady butterfly chrysalis. Caterpillar. pupa. pupation. painted lady butterfly life cycle. Painted lady butterfly . distelfalter. distelvlinder. painted lady spinning pupa. painted lady butterfly chrysalis. pupating caterpillar. Pupating. painted lady spinning pupa. Vanessa cardui. cosmopolitan butterfly. Boyalı xanım. репейница. geschilderde dame. senyora pintada. Señora pintada. leptir čičkov. målad lady. señora pintada. nalíčená žena. лептир чичков. nalíčená žena. Distelfalter. benekli kırmızı kelebek. bogáncspillangó. дяволска пеперуда. Репейница. leptir čičkov. senhora pintada. wanita dicat. Usninukas. репейница. 작은 멋쟁이. Time Lapse. pupa. krizalidë. kepompong. chwiler. χρυσαλλίδα. crisálida. ดักแด้. kotelo. какавида. con nhộng. شفیره poczwarka. kūniņa. 번데기. Admiral butterfly. 化蛹的幼蟲. 蝶. 蛹. 幼虫. 毛虫から蛹に. 動画. video. PM6:30 20/5/2013 JAPAN. youtube. wanita dicat. Time Lapse. unboxing. Butterfly. féileacán. kəpənək. فراشة flutur. թիթեռ. Farfalla. פלאַטערל kupu-kupu. Glöynnod Byw. метелик. تیتلی liblikas. papilio. vlinder. Papallona. bolboreta. πεταλούδα. პეპელა papiyon. leptir. kupu. fjäril. mariposa. motýľ. metulj. kipepeo. лептир. ผีเสื้อ. paparo. motýl. Schmetterling. kelebek. pillangó. perhonen. papillon. пеперуда. bướm. פרפר матылёк. پروانه motyl. leptir. borboleta. пеперутка. Rama-rama. npuj npaim. papilio. tauriņš. peteliškė. fluture. бабочка. 나비. 蝴蝶. 蝶.

 
  Vanessa Cardui (Painted Lady) on coleus plant
Usabell
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Feb 13, 2010

Painted Lady (Vanessa Cardui) butterfly from Summer 2009, sitting on my hand, afterwards moving onto a coleus plant at my window, filmed at home.

 
  Painted Lady - Vanessa cardui - Butterfly Music Video
canonfather
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 27, 2010

These little ladies are quite common in our Zinnia patch, and not nearly as skittish as the Monarchs when it comes to having their picture taken. The guitar in the audion portion has two capos on it. A 6-string capo below the 4th fret and a 5-string capo (actually a banjo capo, but it works well for 5 guitar strings) below the 6th fret. When I play a "D" chord, it comes out as G# with a low G# bass drone.

 
  Vanessa Cardui - Where Poetry Fails
Vanessa Cardui
 
   
 
About

Published on Apr 19, 2012

The first track from 'Thought Experiment', debut solo album from Canadian female recording artist Vanessa Cardui, as heard on CBC 1, CJTR, and DruidCast.

www.vanessacardui.ca
www.facebook.com/VanessaCarduiArtist

Painted Lady photos and Thought Experiment Release photos by Andy Letch of SpecOpsPhoto. Outdoor shots by Tremaine Lea. Backstage photos by Sora. Other photos by Erin Lindley.

This is incredible, finally I've found you
A scent like the holy shroud guided me through the crowd
We can't be apart knowing now what we know
We've been dying of loneliness night after night
Just like Adam and Eve in the wasteland of righteousness
Or mermaids in bellies of whales

And now I'm falling, falling so hard
Time sparkles and sings like a stream
Flowing around me, flowing away
It makes no difference to me

You could say anything
All that I'd hear is 'run away with me, be with me, live with me, die with me',
My jacket is on and I'm ready to go
Or don't say anything, nothing is beautiful too
Lips like yours have more interesting things to do
You are where poetry fails

Falling so hard, falling so hard
I'm moving as though in a dream
Time flows like water
But can't put out this fire in my skin

I would do anything just to be near you
So go and I'll follow you, catch you and swallow you
I won't spend the night alone ever again
And don't let it upset you if sometimes I cry to be
Never in you the way you are inside of me
Just fill me up and I'll never say when

Falling so hard
Falling so hard

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this insect.

 
  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Alfredo Colon
9/29/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

painted lady

 
  Dan W. Andree
8/30/2019

Location: Rural Norman Co. Mn.

Painted Lady Butterflies...

There are so many of them in areas. Must of been a major hatch out.

painted lady

 
  Lynn Rubey
8/29/2019

Location: Glencoe, MN

they can't stay away from this sedum plant today

painted lady

 
  Karen Otto
8/17/2019

Location: backyard Owatonna, MN

Have seen several in the area in the last couple of weeks

  Lynn Rubey
8/5/2019

Location: Big Stone Lake State Park

A Painted Lady Butterfly on Bull Thistle in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge. With the wings folded together you can see a clear veiw of the underside of this beautiful butterfly.

painted lady

 
  Gerry Garcia
8/4/2019

Location: Lyndale Park, Minneapolis, MN

painted lady

 
  Lynn Rubey
8/3/2019

Location: Big Stone Lake State Park

A painted Lady Butterfly on purple loosestrife in The Big Stone Lake State Park Meadowbrook area.

painted lady

 
  Mary
August 21st to present - September11th-2017

Location: Marshall,MN

They are all over Marshall by the hundreds, with many Monarchs as well. They are on various trees, shrubs, and thistle plants

  mininthecity
2/24/2018

Location: Apostle Islands in Lake Superior

Painted Lady viewing Lake Superior

painted lady

 
  Norm & Peg Dibble
September 2017

Location: Maple Grove, MN

We have many large Autumn Joy Sedums all around the yard and every one of them had this many Painted Lady butterflies on them. It was a shocking and wonderful sight!

painted lady

 
  Nanook
9/21/2017

Location: North Shore Lake Superior

Sept 21, 2017 at least 100 visiting this week.

painted lady

 
  Susan
9/11/2017

Location: St. Paul, MN

Lots and lots of these beautiful butterflies on our backyard flowers…take a look. Once I counted them and there were over 40!.

painted lady

 
  Muriel Hachfeld
9/10/2017

Location: Detroit Lakes, MN

approximately 12 on Sedum in the sunshine

  Anne
9/7/2017

Location: St. Paul, MN

Over 20 on the sedum plants in the late afternoon sun on Thursday, Sept. 7th.  The next day there were just a couple in my yard - one was on an overripe tomato that had burst open.

painted lady

 
  Kathy Johnson
9/7/2017

Location: Anoka, MN

I have had large numbers (15+ at a time) of painted ladies in my yard the past few weeks. They love the tithonia and the ligularia.

painted lady

 
  Loni Gradick
9/6/2017

Location: Plymouth, MN

These seem smaller than monarchs, any ideas? I am a master gardener & have never seen them this plentiful in my yard before. Yes, I have many roses, milkweed, phlox, sedum, rudbeckia. It is a marvelous spectacle that I stop & stare in wonder many times a day.... My dog, Lucy & I dress up as monarchs & give out milkweed seeds at Halloween (candy too, of course).

painted lady

 
  Faith Ann
9/6/2017

Location: Victoria, Minnesota

Dozens of them are feeding on the many, mature and blooming Stonecrop plants in my yard. This is the first year they have appeared in such numbers to be noticeable. I typically see several varieties of bees feeding on these plants ... this year the bees have some lovely competition!

painted lady

 
  Glory
9/7/2017

Location: Edina, MN

3 were feeding on sedum plant

  Mary Sue
Keating

9/7/2017

Location: Foley, Mn

We have a large group of painted ladies in our perennial garden. They seem to be especially attracted to the sedum.

  Lora Nathan Homuth
9/6/2017

Location: Corcoran, MN

I believe we have lots of Painted Ladies in Corcoran MN right now. They are swarming the soy bean field across the road and coming to visit my perennial beds.

painted lady

 
  Margot Avey
8/31/2017

Location: in my backyard St Louis Park, MN

painted lady

 
  Ruth Anderson
8/30/2017

Location: Big Stone County

Very prevalent in Big Stone County by Clinton, MN.  They are feasting on heliotrope, lantana, and sunflowers in my yard -- but there are hundreds sitting on gravel roads in the area, clouds of them!

  Bill Reynolds
8/4/2017

Location: Pennington Co. MN

It's been a banner year up here for the Painted Lady Butterfly. I don't recall ever seeing the numbers in in the past like I have this year. Very large second emergence for this butterfly this year. I was just out to a patch of Burdock, in which at least 20 Ladies were working for a bit of nectar. Looking about the surrounding area there are even more working Sow Thistle and Goldenrod.

painted lady

 
  Bill Reynolds
9/6/2003

Location: Pennington Co. Minnesota

painted lady

 
           
 
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