Painted lady Cynthia cardui


Best time to see: mid Apr to mid Oct

Key facts

A migratory butterfly from North Africa sometimes arriving here across Europe in very large numbers

Habitat: any sunny open area with plenty of flowers to feed on

In good years common throughout Britain

Recognition

Wingtips black with white spots; elsewhere pink to orange background with black markings; underside paler and mottled

Establish territories on sunny patches of ground in the shelter of hedges, shrubs or woods

Powerful gliding flight; wingspan up to 7 cm

Lifecycle

Oval eggs laid, usually on thistles, on arrival from mid-April on, and again in late summer by the adults of that brood

Black spiny caterpillars with a yellow stripe spin a web under a leaf then eats all of it apart from spines

Later spins a tent of leaves in which the chrysalis develops; unable to hibernate or survive British winters

  • Main photo
  • underside

Photo © Owen Keen

Photo © Tony Gunton