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Painted Lady

Vanessa cardui

  • Name also: Cosmopolitan (USA)
  • Latin synonym: Cynthia cardui
  • Family: Brushfooted Butterflies – Nymphalidae
  • Subfamily: True Brushfoots – Nymphalinae
  • Wing span: (Medium-sized–)Large, 50–65 mm (1.97–2.56 in.).
  • Wing upper side: Yellowish orange, with black blotches. Forewing tip black with white patches.
  • Wing underside: Forewing with same pattern as upper surface, though colours fainter. Hind wing pattern a mix of yellowish brown and white, inner part with blue eye-blotches, blue stripe parallel to margin.
  • Habitat: Almost all habitats.
  • Flying time: Late May–September,.Rare in July, most common in late summer.
  • Overwintering form: Adult butterfly. Doesn’t overwinter in Finland.
  • Larval foodplant: Especially thistles (genera Carduus and Cirsium), but other plants too.

As the American name tells us, the painted lady is one of the the world’s most widespread butterflies, and is only absent from Antarctica and South America. Painted ladies in Finland have wandered from more southern countries and are unable to overwinter here, neither do they overwinter much anywhere else in Europe. Painted ladies in Finland overwinter in northern Africa.

The wings are yellowish orange. The forewings with white-blotched black tips, and the blue eye blotches in the middle of the underside of the hind wings make the species easy to recognize. Females lay their eggs one by one on the host plant, and the caterpillars live inside the entwined leaves. The second generation that is born in Finland is able to fly in late July, but wanderers can also arrive in autumn.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same subfamily

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