Painted Lady Butterfly

Vanessa cardui

Painted Lady Butterfly

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A close up of a Painted Lady Vanessa cardui on a flower
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The painted lady butterfly is a long-distance migrant. They originate within the fringes of Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, making their way to Europe and the UK during summer months. These butterflies begin arriving in Europe during late March, gradually increasing in numbers during May. They're a medium-sized butterfly, showing a preference for mallows, common nettle and vipers bugloss. These butterflies do particularly well during warmer summers when food plants are most abundant.
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A pretty migrant butterfly that's a frequent visitor of UK gardens.


Newly emerged adults are vividly orange, black and white. The forewings tend to appear as burnt orange with black tips and white spots, as opposed to the hindwings which have black spots. The main body is brown. At rest, the wings are a mixture of browns, greys and whites, with 5 eyespots on the hindwing. Unfortunately, the orange colouring fades as these butterflies get older. The larvae are velvety, spiny black-grey caterpillars. The hairs or spines are white and black. There's a notable creamy-yellow stripe that runs laterally down the body. Pupae, or cocoons, are generally formed using the food plant or shrub, spun and bonded with silk. They look a bit like a malformed dead leaf. Eggs are laid singularly on the food plant; they are green, tiny and difficult to see with the naked eye.











One of the most widespread butterflies, this insect is present in every continent apart from Antartica and South America.

Biological treatment

Butterflies are considered important pollinators. Unfortunately, the larvae, or caterpillars, can sometimes be pests in years where conditions are optimum for their breeding. If in high abundance, caterpillars may be picked off using gloves and placed someplace else.

Chemical treatment

It's not recommended to use pesticides on these butterflies.
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Knowledge and advice

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