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Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)


Painted Lady Butterfly

The painted lady butterfly is a colorful species found in almost every continent apart from Antarctica and South America.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Genus: Vanessa
  • Scientific Name: Vanessa cardui


Description and Identification


Painted Lady Butterfly Caterpillar
Painted Lady Caterpillar

The larvae have a greyish brown body while at the ends they attain a darker shade. Yellow stripes run behind their back patterned with spikes and curves.


Painted Lady Chrysalis

They can vary in color, being bluish-white, metallic green or brown. They remain in the chrysalis stage between 7 and 10 days after which they develop into adults.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Color and Appearance: When opened, the upper part of the wings are orangish-brown with black patches and white spots on the top. When the wings are closed the undersides are gray, black and brown marbled pattern with four black spots at the center.

Vanessa Cardui
Painted Lady

Average wingspan: 5.1 cm to 7.3 cm

Flight pattern: Fast anderratic


Painted Lady Eggs

The eggs are oval and green in color.

Quick Facts

DistributionOn all continents apart from Antarctica and South America; In Australia it is found in Fremantle, Rottnest Island and Bunbury;
HabitatAreas which are opened, sunny and lit brightly like old fields, dunes and gardens
Lifespan of adults10-24 days post pupation
Host plantsHollyhock,silver brocade Artemisia, and Pearly Everlasting
Adult diet Nectar from plants like thistles, blazing star, cosmos, joe-pye weed, aster and ironweed

Did You Know

  • They feed on more than 300 host plants. 
  • This species are even referred to as Thistle butterfly as this is what the caterpillars thrive on.
  • It has a speed of about 30 miles an hour which thus allows it to travel approximately 100 miles a day when it is migrating.
Pictures of Painted Lady Butterflies
Painted Lady Butterfly Images
Male Painted Lady Butterfly
Female Painted Lady Butterfly
Painted Lady Butterfly Life Cycle
Painted Lady Butterfly Migration Map

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Genus: Vanessa
  • Scientific Name: Vanessa cardui
Published by Avatar on August 5, 2019.
Last Updated: July 29, 2023. ✅ Verified by: Butterfly Team