Friday, 8 May 2015

Day 186 - Perfectly Pretty Painted Ladies

Painted Lady (Cynthia cardui)
Hey everyone, well its day 186 and I was looking through my photos to see if there was anything that I could do a post about and I found a nice couple of photos of today's subject. I've seen these a lot and I was lucky enough for one birthday to be give a present to grow and hatch these wonderful and delicate little creatures. I see them in quite a few places I go to, and I guess you all will too. I'm talking today about the Painted Lady Butterfly.

So, I did my research as usual and this is what I found out:

Feeding on Hemp Agimony - no idea
why it only has one antennae

  • The first thing I found out about these butterflies I found pretty amazing. They don't hibernate, instead they migrate - to and from North Africa!! That seems a long way for a little butterfly!
  • Having said that it turns out they are one of our largest butterflies - they have a wingspan of 50-56mm.
  • Their migrations can be really spectacular in successful years. The migration is triggered when there are lots of them in one area, the pressure for food makes them fly further afield. They can occur in such densities that they strip food plants bare so this is a handy evolutionary tactic.
  • They generally start to arrive back from Africa in late may to early June so look out for them soon.
Ready for release
  • When breeding the female lays up to 200 eggs but lays each one on a different plant - that must be tiring!
  • The eggs are laid on nettles, mallows but the favourite is thistles. The young caterpillars hatch and start to eat the underside of the leaves. As they grow a bit they construct little tents with the leaves pulling them together with a silk they produce.
  • The new adult butterflies emerge in August to September and feed up before heading off to Africa in the Autumn. Some do stay but die in the cold of winter.
  • When I had my present of some of these to hatch I got them as tiny caterpillars with food and a cage for them to pupate in. The little caterpillars grew really quickly and their change into a pupae and then an adult was amazing to see.
Near our Buddliea
  • Once the adults emerged I let them free in out garden next to a big Buddleia bush which has lots of butterflies on it in the summer. They didn't hang around though they flew off really quickly!
  • Thistles tend to be a favourite food plant but they will drink nectar from a range of plants.
So I hope you liked finding out about these lovely creatures, here's some links if you want to know more:

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. Lovely post Zach, and these photos are amazing! I love seeing the butterflies beginning to return come June, they're a welcome sight to the garden! - Tasha