27 November 2005

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

The Painted Lady (family Nymphalidae) is a widely distributed species, present on all continents except Australia and Antarctica. In the U.S., its range overlaps a similar species, the American Lady ( Vanessa virginiensis). The 2 species can, however, be easily distinguished from each other1, especially when good photographs are available. The lower surfaces of the hindwings of the American Lady have 2 large eyespots, while those of the Painted Lady have 5 spots that are clearly visible in the picture above. The upper forewings of the Painted Lady have a large semicircle or circle forming from the black markings (arrow in the picture below). This feature is lacking on the wings of the American Lady. Furthermore, the upper forewings of the latter species have a small white spot on orange. Firefly Forest Blog has a picture of an American Lady identifying these characteristic spots.

1. Glassberg, J. Butterflies through Binoculars. The East. Oxford U. Press. 1999.

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