Painted lady - Vanessa cardui

Above a fresh Painted lady, and below somewhat worse for wear.


Family: Nymphalidae.

Flight Time: April - October.

Size: 54-58mm

Altitude: 0-3000m

A strong migrant which boosts its populations in northern Europe by annual migrations from its breeding grounds in the south. It seems not to be able to survive the winter further north, so it is scarce some years, common others.

Only possible confusion is with the extremely rare migrant Vanessa virginiensis which has to come from north America, which it does very, very rarely.

Pictured right is a young caterpillar, very characteristic with its three rows of golden spikes.

Painted lady young larva



Fact File

Similar Species Foodplants Habitat Distribution


Very varied


Painted lady distribution.

Change map to  


Early Stages


  Painted lady larva Painted lady pupa


All pictures in these pages copyright to Simon Coombes. Permission must be sought and obtained for any use.