Painted Lady

Vanessa cardui


Spain, April 2011

Switzerland, May 2011

Switzerland, May 2009

Switzerland, June 2009

Switzerland, August 2005

Switzerland, August 2005

Early 4th instar (probably) larva, feeding on borage, March 2013, Málaga

Long ago...

The painted lady is a remarkable butterfly. It is not a permanent resident anywhere in Europe but arrives here in the spring from North Africa and breeds continuously throughout the summer. In the late summer and early autumn it is now known to fly south again, using high airstreams and so not visible to terrestrial observers. This dependence on migration means its numbers fluctuate greatly, especially in northern Europe. In some years its numbers explode to almost plague proportions (most recently, 2009), in others it is almost absent. 2005 was such a year. I saw none at all in Switzerland until August (my first for the year was seen in Spain in July), when I saw a total of about three.