The painted lady, with its distinctive orange, black and white-spotted wings, is one of the best-known and most widespread of all butterflies. Nicknamed the cosmopolitan in North America, the painted lady is found on every continent except South America. It is a strong flyer capable of long-distance migrations from north Africa, the Middle East and central Asia to Britain and Ireland. Adults may be seen in any habitat but prefer well-lit, open environments such as meadows with plenty of thistles, which are preferred nectar sources for adults and also foodplants for caterpillars.
Did you know: Painted ladies excrete a red liquid when they emerge which used to be mistaken for blood. It is actually meconium, a waste material produced during metamorphosis.
Scientific name: Vanessa cardui
The following habitats are found across the Painted lady distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Vanessa cardui is a well-known colourful butterfly, known as the Painted Lady, or in North America as the Cosmopolitan. This butterfly has a strange pattern of flying in a sort of screw shape.
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