- Subfamily:: Nymphalinae - Nymphalini
- Wingspan: 50-75 mm
- Flight period: (Jan) May - Sept (Dec)
- Spread: Common
- Host plants: Asteraceae - Urticaceae
The Vanessa cardui also known as Painted Lady is a large butterfly of the Nymphalidae family, subfamily Nymphalinae,
with wingspan of 50 - 75 mm.
It is distributed throughout Europe, including Iceland, in Italy it is also present in the islands. * Vanessa cardui is widespread on all continents except Antarctica.
In Oceania it has a limited diffusion to a few areas of the western part of Australia where however its close relative, the Vanessa kershawi, proliferates.
The background color of the wings is pale orange, with the apex of the front wings brown / black with numerous light spots. The hind wings have a brown / black spot. The lower page of the front wing is orange and hazel with black and white spots; the rear wing has a complicated pattern of spots, some of them rounded, edged in brown and white or yellow, near the edge of the wing. **
Sexual dimorphism is not evident. Polivoltina makes 2 or 3 overlapping generations. Adults are observable throughout the summer but do not survive the winter (can overwinter as a chrysalis).
The species usually spends the winters only in the tropical belt and sometimes in the warmer southern areas of the Mediterranean (for example in Sicily), but in spring, and sometimes again in autumn, it migrates. For example, we see it moving from North Africa and the Mediterranean to southern and central Europe up to Great Britain in the months of May and June.
Flying fast, it makes quick stops on the flowers to suck the nectar. Present in any Habitat prefers sunny meadows and uncultivated land from sea level to mountain level. The caterpillars have branched spines and a series of narrow, pale yellow-cream stripes on the body which is generally dark.
Polyphagous species many host plants are known especially Asteraceae such as Thistles also of cultivated species, preferring the genera Carduus (Carduus crispus) and Cirsium (Cirsium arvense), Urticaceae, Malvaceae, Brassicaceae and Fabaceae.
* Lepidoptera mundi https://lepidoptera.eu/ - Fauna Europea https://fauna-eu.org/
** Bestimmungshilfe für die in Europa nachgewiesenen Schmetterlingsarten - http://lepiforum.de/