Painted lady on a post (c) Joshua Lamsdale

Painted lady

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.

How to identify common garden butterflies.

Scientific name: Vanessa cardui

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Cosmopolitan,
  • Thistle butterfly

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