Vanessa virginiensis

American Painted Lady


by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2024

Show butterflies of: EU US
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Coimbra, Portugal, October 2019

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Coimbra, Portugal, October 2019

Field notes and information

Principally an American species it is resident in Europe in the Canaries and the SW Iberian peninsula. It is also migrator and has occasionally been found further north, even in SW UK.

Identification & Similar species: Superficially similar to the painted lady V. cardui. However in flight it is quite clearly much more orange and a bright orange V shape formed by the markings accorss the forewings is quite obvious (try squinting while looking a the photos). The underside is dominated by two large eye spots and an intense pink flash on the forewing.

Distribution & Flight: Principally an American species it is resident in Europe in the Canary (Tenerife, La Palma and La Gomera) islands and Portugal and SW mainland Spain. Possibly resident in Madeira. It is partially migratory and it has been found as far north as SW UK. I don't know if the origin of these migratory individuals is southern Europe or N America.

It flies throughout the year in warmer areas but possibly pausing for winter in Iberia.

Habitat & Behaviour: Probably wide ranging across the countryside and urban areas. Breeding habitats will be open ground wherever the larval food plant is found - in woodland, farmland, vineyards, urban areas...

The larvae are distinctive and can be found basking on bare earth in patches of the the larval food plant Jersey Cudweed Laphangium luteoalbum. They create distinctive white silk nests on the food plants in which the larvae shelter.

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La Palma, Spain, August 2021

Fully grown larva.

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Coimbra, Portugal, October 2019

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Coimbra, Portugal, October 2019

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Coimbra, Portugal, October 2019

Larval nests on Jersey Cudweed Laphangium luteoalbum.

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La Gomera, Spain, August 2021

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La Palma, Spain, August 2021

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Coimbra, Portugal, October 2019

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Coimbra, Portugal, October 2019

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Coimbra, Portugal, October 2019