American Painted Lady

(Vanessa virgininiensis)

 

Identification

The butterfly's upperside is an uneven brown, yellow, and orange pattern. The forewing has a black apical patch, a small white spot in the orange field below the patch, and a white bar at the leading edge of the forewing. The underside of the hind wing has two large eye spots.

 Its winter form is smaller and paler, while the summer form is larger with brighter coloring. It is often mistaken for the Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui). The Painted Lady has 5 spots along the wing margin whereas the American Painted Lady has 2 larger blue centered eye spots. The wing span averages between 1 3/4 to 2 5/8  inches (4.5 - 6.7 cm). 

The caterpillar is velvety black with black spines, narrow yellow-green and white spots on the sides

Habitat

It is often found in open places with low vegetation including dunes, meadows, parks, vacant lots, forest edges.

Food

The caterpillar prefers plants in the Sunflower family, Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea), Plantain-Leaved Pussy Toes (Antennaria plantaginifolia), Wormwood (Artemisia), Ironweed (Vernonia), and Burdock (Arctium).

The butterfly feeds on nectar from Goldenrod, Marigold and Milkweed.

 

Life Cycle  

During the afternoon, males can be seen perching on hilltops or on low vegetation. Females lay eggs singly on the top of host plant leaves. The caterpillar is solitary, living and feeding in a nest of leaves tied with silk. The American Painted Lady typically has two or more broods per year.

 

Remarks

The American Painted Lady is an infrequent migrant to Bermuda. To attract this butterfly plant Seaside Goldenrod and Milkweed for the butterfly and Sunflowers for the caterpillar.