Vanessa cardui (Linnaeus, 1758)
European Painted Lady
(previously known as Cynthia cardui)
NYMPHALINAE ,   NYMPHALIDAE ,   PAPILIONOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley


(Photo: courtesy of Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center)

This Caterpillar is black with branched hairs. It is a popular caterpillar to raise in schools. It has been reported to feed on over 100 plant species, including:

  • Spear Thistle ( Cirsium vulgare, ASTERACEAE ),
  • Vipers Bugloss ( Echium vulgare, BORAGINACEAE ),
  • Bitter Cucumber ( Citrullus colocynthis, CUCURBITACEAE ),
  • Common Bean ( Phaseolus vulgaris, FABACEAE ),
  • Hollyhock ( Althaea rosea, MALVACEAE ),
  • Stinging Nettle ( Urtica dioica, URTICACEAE ),
  • Grapevine ( Vitis vinifera, VITACEAE ),

    and it is a pest outside Australia on

  • Sunflowers ( Helianthus annuus, ASTERACEAE ).


    Ascension Island
    , 1987

    The adult butterflies have a wing span around 5 cms. They are mottled orange and black, with a small white markings in the black areas, and each hindwing has a blue streak at the tornus.


    Union Island, Grenadines of St Vincent
    , 1985

    The undersides are paler but have a similar pattern.


    Guernsey
    , 1981

    They are a worldwide species, occurring for example in :

  • Estonia
  • Hawaii,
  • India,
  • Russia,
  • Swaziland,
  • United Kingdom, and
  • United States of America.

    The caterpillar is seldom found in Australia. The adults of this species have mainly been found in

  • Western Australia
    where it seems that migrant adults have crossed the Indian Ocean from Africa.


    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 2, p. 581.

    Carl Linnaeus,
    Insecta Lepidoptera,
    Systema Naturae,
    Volume 1, Edition 10 (1760), Class 5, Part 3, p. 475, No. 107.


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    (updated 1 October 2012, 12 December 2013)