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American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)
The American Painted Lady belongs to the butterfly family called Nymphalidae. This species is also known by the common names Painted Beauty and Virginia Lady. This butterfly is found throughout North America and into Central America. Adults are orange in color and are marked with complicated patterns of black, white, blue and pink (on the under side). If you look closely you can see a “jack-o-lantern” face in the front wing.
Underside of an American Painted Lady’s wings
The American Painted Lady lays its small pale green eggs singly, on the top of its host plants. Newly hatches larvae are black, have black spines that are branching, narrow yellow cross-bands and a row of white spots on each side.
Painted Lady larvae (photo courtesy of http://www.lloydspitalnikphotos.com/)
Older larvae have greenish bands with black lines across their body. They have black, red and white spots along their back. Older larvae also have the large, branching black spines.
Painted Lady chrysalis (courtesy of https://www.bioedonline.org)
When full-grown, larvae form a chrysalis. The chrysalis is about one inch long, yellow-green to gray and covered with gray patches and yellow spots. This butterfly has a wingspan of about 1 3/4 – 2 ¼ inches. They have two to three generations each year and adults may be found from April to October. They spend the winter in protected places, whether they are in the adult or pupal stage.
Look for the American Painted Lady in sunny areas, along road and stream sides, in parks and meadows, and in your flower gardens.