Mexico, USA & Canada
American Painted Lady
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - NYMPHALINI
Vanessa virginiensis, Westport, Massachusetts, USA ©
Vanessa comprises of about 20 species
and includes the most
widespread butterfly in the world - the Painted Lady
Vanessa cardui which occurs in Europe,
Asia, Africa, Australia and across North America. There are 9 other
species found in the Americas: myrinna
from Brazil, braziliensis from Brazil
and Peru, carye from Argentina,
terpsichore from Chile,
altissima from Peru and Bolivia,
tameamea from Hawaii,
annabella from the western USA,
virginiensis which is distributed from
the USA to Colombia, and the Red Admiral
atalanta which occurs across Europe, Asia, north Africa, and
throughout North America.
Painted Lady species have a similar pattern of pinkish-orange, black
and white on the upperside, and have cryptic undersides marbled in
olive and grey, with a row of post-median ocelli of varying sizes on
is distributed throughout North America and Central America, and
also occurs in Colombia, in the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, Hawaii
and Canary Islands.
This is a migratory species which can turn up in almost any habitat
from desert to rainforest, but is most frequent on scrubby
grassland, in open deciduous woodland, and in meadows, city parks
and gardens. It is found at altitudes between sea level and about
The eggs are
whitish. They are laid singly on a wide range of plants including
Artemesia ( Asteraceae ),
Antirrhinum ( Scrophulariacae ) and
Malva ( Malvaceae ).
larvae are dark, usually mottled with blackish and bear short
whorled spikes on the back and sides. They live solitarily within a
silken web spun around the upper leaves and stem of the foodplant,
leaving a mass of frass adhering to the silk.
The pupae of Vanessa
species are greyish, and slightly lustrous. They are suspended by
the cremaster within the silk nests spun by the larvae.
Both sexes are commonly encountered
within the species' range, sometimes singly, but often in large
numbers. As with other Vanessa species
mass migrations and mass emergences occur, and it is possible at
certain times of year to find hundreds or even thousands nectaring
gregariously at sheltered flowery sites.