Painted Lady

  • Painted Lady
    Painted Lady
  • Painted-Lady (upperwing)
    Painted-Lady (upperwing)
  • Painted Lady (group)
    Painted Lady (group)
  • Painted Lady (underwing)
    Painted Lady (underwing)
  • Painted Lady (egg)
    Painted Lady (egg)
  • Painted Lady (caterpillar)
    Painted Lady (caterpillar)
  • Video play iconPainted Lady
    Painted Lady (video)
  • Painted Lady
    Painted Lady
  • Painted-Lady (upperwing)
    Painted-Lady (upperwing)
  • Painted Lady (group)
    Painted Lady (group)
  • Painted Lady (underwing)
    Painted Lady (underwing)
  • Painted Lady (egg)
    Painted Lady (egg)
  • Painted Lady (caterpillar)
    Painted Lady (caterpillar)
  • Painted Lady
    Painted Lady (video)

Scientific name: Vanessa cardui

Orange-brown wings with black and white spots on forewing. Undersides mottled brown with spots.

The Painted Lady is a long-distance migrant, which causes the most spectacular butterfly migrations observed in Britain and Ireland.

Each year, it spreads northwards from the desert fringes of North Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia, recolonising mainland Europe and reaching Britain and Ireland. In some years it is an abundant butterfly, frequenting gardens and other flowery places in late summer.

Size and Family

  • Family – Nymphalids
  • Medium Sized 
  • Wing Span Range (male to female) - 50-56mm

Conservation status

  • UK BAP status: Not assessed                  
  • Butterfly Conservation priority: Low     
  • European status: Not assessed

Caterpillar Foodplants

A wide range of foodplants may be used with thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.) being preferred in Britain and Ireland. Mallows (Malva spp.), Common Nettle (Urtica dioica), Viper's-bugloss (Echium vulgare), and various cultivated plants also have been recorded as larval foodplants here.

Distribution

  • Countries – England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales
  • Throughout Britain and Ireland, but numbers vary greatly from year to year
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = +32%

Habitat

This common and widespread migrant likes dry open areas, but can be seen anywhere in a good year. 

Factsheets

Similar species