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Painted Lady Butterfly

Vanessa cardui

Key facts

  • 27 degrees C - body temperature it needs to warm to before it can fly
  • It looks like a small Tortoiseshell but it's slightly bigger

Latest Reports

Selected date

Recent reports:

Latest Comments

"I need to know about Painted Lady Butterflies ANY INFO IS GOOD"

Mr. Smith

Get in touch if you've got any comments or questions on the Painted Lady Butterfly.

Submit your Painted Lady sighting

The Painted Ladies are coming to Britain earlier every year. If you have already seen them, please let Butterfly Conservation know.

Species information

A colourful summer visitor to the UK, the Painted Lady seems to be changing the timing and scale of its immigration in response to climate change.

The Migration

The population starts to move north from North Africa from January onwards, breeding and dying as it goes, gradually reaching most of Europe. They can reach the UK as early as February but the majority will arrive in June. The last generation will return south to Africa in August and September.

Time and Distance

2000km in as little as one month.


Each generation eats as it travels north. The returning generation feeds as it travels south.

Reason for Migration

They leave North Africa to escape the intense summer heat.


Populations seem to be healthy but their exact wintering sites are unknown.

What happened in 2008?

In conjunction with Richard Fox from Butterfly Conservation, we discovered that it was a poor year for Painted Ladies. Poor weather conditions meant that not as many butterflies as expected made it as far north as our shores. We also spoke to researchers from Rothamsted Research whose innovative vertical-looking radar was able to monitor the north and southbound migrations. This gave us an interesting insight into the navigation of Painted Lady Butterflies.

Submit your Sighting

Our other partner is Butterfly Conservation who are asking you to look out for the Painted Lady and to submit your sighting to their online map. If you want to tell us the story of your sightings, you can do so via the comments page.


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