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Painted Lady

Scientific Name:

Vanessa cardui




Variety of natural and disturbed areas


All continents except Australia and Antarctica


Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


Painted lady butterflies have wingspans of over 2 inches. These butterflies have impressive and beautiful orange patterns on their wings. They also have brown patterns along with the orange on their upper wings. Black and white patches are also found on the wings with the orange and brown patterns. Painted ladies usually fly low, near to the ground as they look for the nectar of plants.

Fast Facts:

  • In the caterpillar stage, they prefer to eat thistles and are sometimes referred to as "Thistle Butterflies".

  • Caterpillars will feed on over 100 different types of host plants.

  • Painted lady butterflies cannot tolerate freezing temperatures and therefore great migrations of these beautiful butterflies are seen at least once a year. 

  • Adult butterflies eat the nectar of a variety of different plants such as thistles, cosmos, asters, and milkweed.

  • Painted ladies are considered the most widespread of all of the butterfly species.

  • Painted lady butterflies have been noted in all parks in the Truckee Meadows during migration periods.



Caron Tayloe (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

March 27, 2024 at 1:48:22 AM

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