Painted Lady Vanessa cardui

The beautiful painted lady is a migrant to our shores, from North Africa and the continent. No stage in the species’ lifecycle overwinters in the UK. Its principal larval foodplant is thistles of various species, so the butterfly can breed in a range of habitats in the UK.

Conservation status

The painted lady’s numbers in Norfolk vary enormously from year to year. In some years it is abundant and, since it can breed in any habitat in which there are thistles, it is widespread and successful. It is therefore not a species of conservation concern.

Related questions & advice

What is the difference between moths and butterflies?


Did you know? During the most recent massive immigration of painted ladies, which took place in 2009, scientists were able to demonstrate that in the autumn some painted ladies attempt to migrate south away from the UK.
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