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Painted Lady - Vanessa cardui

painted lady


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Arthropoda
 Class: Insecta
 Order: Lepidoptera
 Family: Nymphalidae
 Genus: Vanessa


Painted LadyThe painted lady has a wingspan of 2-3 inches. It has scalloped orange wings with black patches. The tips of its forewings are black with white splotches. Its underside is a mottled gray, brown, and black with four eyespots. The painted lady is also called the thistle butterfly because it likes thistles and the cosmopolitan butterfly because it is found all over the world.


mapThe painted lady is found on all continents, except for Australia and Antarctica. It is the most widespread species of butterfly in the world. In North America, it is found from sub-Arctic Canada south to Panama. The painted lady is found throughout New Hampshire.


Painted LadyThe painted lady is found in almost any habitat, but it prefers open, sunny environments like fields, parks, meadows, and dunes.



Painted LadyThe painted lady eats the nectar of a variety of plants including goldenrod, aster, zinnia, butterfly bush, and milkweed. The caterpillar eats plants in the Asteraceae and Malvaceae families.

Life Cycle

Painted Lady The female painted lady lays single pale green eggs on host plants. The eggs hatch in 3-5 days. The caterpillar is purple to black in color and has yellow and green strips and is covered in spines. It pupates in 5-10 days. The painted lady butterfly emerges from the chrysalis in 7-10 days.

Video Credit: US Fish and Wildlife