Vanessa cardui – Painted Lady

Caterpillar foods:  thistles, Burdock and hollyhocks; occasionally nettle, alfalfa, soybean, beet, borage, plantain  (Bugguide)

The most widely distributed butterfly in the world.  (BAMONA)

This species can’t survive our cold winters.  It migrates up every year from warmer places.  Some years there are big ‘invasions’ – usually at least several years apart.  (Bugguide)


Painted Lady 9-23-12


9/12/2003  This was a year of a big invasion.

painted lady 2 9-12-03



Painted Lady 5-17-12 1



painted lady 8-9-05 1


7/10/2007  caterpillar in a nest on Field Thistle (Cirsium discolor)

painted lady caterpillar on thistle


7/10/2011 caterpillar nest

painted lady caterpillar


7/30/2017  This was another big migration year.  I watched a female lay an egg on this Canada Thistle.



8/5/2017  The caterpillar grew for a while in a cage, but the plant finally wilted and the caterpillar wouldn’t move to a fresh plant.


5/21/2004  A late instar caterpillar from another year


7/8/2019 Painted Lady chrysalis nearly hidden in a thistle plant (Cirsium discolor)


7/8/2019  showing the delicate webbing around the chrysalis