Painted Lady - Peter Eeles

Painted Lady

Vanessa cardui

Peter Eeles
Iain H Leach
Iain H Leach
Andrew Cooper
Jim Asher
Peter Eeles
Dean Morley

What do they eat?

Caterpillars much on:

  • Thistles (favourite)
  • Mallows
  • Common Nettle
  • Viper’s-bugloss

Adults take nectar from a range of flowers including:

  • Thistles (favourite)
  • Bugle (Ajuga)
  • Hemp-agrimony
  • Wild Marjoram

Where does it spend the winter?

Butterflies of this migrant species start arriving in the UK in April, travelling from Africa and Arabia, sometimes via continental Europe. After several life cycles, their descendants usually fly away again in the autumn, back to warmer locations.



Flying Season

April - October

Life Cycle


April, May, June, July, August, September, October


April, May, June, July, August, September


May, June, July, August, September, October


June, July, August, September, October

Want to learn


There is even more about this species on the main Butterfly Conservation website

Fun Facts
about the Painted Lady

Every 10 years or so there is a boom in the number of Painted Ladies that reach our shores, with over 11 million of them arriving in 2009. They are thought to fly at night (unusual for butterflies) and individuals have been recorded flying as high as 1,200m, and as far as 1,000 miles, including crossing the inhospitable Sahara desert.