Painted Lady - Vanessa cardui - Vanesa de los cardos

Painted Lady – Vanessa cardui – Vanesa de los cardos

  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Scientific name: Vanessa cardui
  • English common name: Painted Lady
  • Spanish common name: Cardera /Vanesa de los cardos
  • Portuguese common name: Bela dama
Painted Lady - Vanessa cardui - Vanesa de los cardos

The Painted Lady – Vanessa cardui – Vanesa de los cardos butterfly begins its amazing migration from Africa in the early spring, heading north into most areas of Europe. Once there the numbers swell as the second generation develops, but due to the winter cold they do not complete a return journey, therefore their numbers fluctuate greatly from one year to the next. Some are able to hibernate in the milder Mediterranean areas in the south of Europe where they can be seen most months of the year.

(For about 2 weeks in spring in western Andalucia, near to the Mediterranean coast, we have observed large numbers of them passing northwards in a single line, moments apart, from morning to evening whilst there is warmth from the sun.)

The upper wings are mainly salmon pink to orange, marked with black. Triangles on the fore wing tips are black, with white markings. The underside forewing has these same colours but paler whilst the hindwing is marbled brown, white and black with 5 eye spots.

Painted Lady - Vanessa cardui - Vanesa de los cardos
Painted Lady – Vanessa cardui – Vanesa de los cardos

The caterpillars of this species grow up to 3cm, they are varied in colour but often black, hairy with a fine off-white horizontal line just above the legs.

  • Wing size: 54-58mm
  • Altitude: Sea level to 3000m
  • Flight time: March-October (June-October in more northern areas)
  • Over-wintering: Adults hibernate
  • Caterpillar food plant: Thistles, Nettles, Mallows
  • Distribution: Virtually Worldwide

Similar species: The American Painted Lady, Cynthia virginiensis may be seen in Portugal and the Canary Islands. (Cynthia virginiensis has only two eye spots on the underside hindwing)

Butterflies of Iberia. List of butterflies found in Andalusia. Images taken in Andalucia, Southern Spain.

Ronda Today

Everything you need to know before you visit Ronda “The city of dreams” in Andalucia.

The Caminito del Rey

Find tickets for the Caminito del Rey:

Wildside Holidays – Spain

Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies.

Iberia Nature Forum

Struggling with identifying those bugs and beasties? Why not check out the Iberia nature Forum!

Discover the Iberia Nature Forum – Environment, geography, nature, landscape, climate, culture, history, rural tourism and travel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *