Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui) feeding on Knapweed butterfly card by Julian Williams
Greeting card with coloured envelope featuring butterflies
These cards include an introductory text on the back of the cards. TEXT written on the back of this card reads:
Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui) feeding on Knapweed
Those living in Northern Europe we will often see these butterflies in mid-summer feeding on thistles and buddleia. This butterfly has become one of the most studied insects on earth following the discovery of their extraordinary multi-generational migratory lifestyle that has been mapped out through using isotopes as markers and the help of thousands of citizens contributing towards the “Worldwide Painted Lady Migratory Project”.
The butterflies overwinter in North Africa, Morocco and Sahel south of the Sahara desert. By the spring the winter population has exploded and the butterflies start migrating north, using a sun compass to choose appropriate wind currents on which to hitch rides. On arrival in northern latitudes the migrants breed and multiply, building up their populations sufficiently for their offspring to migrate back to recolonise N. Africa for the winter. The whole migratory cycle of up to 12,000 km can take place across six generations. A similar migration happens between Mexico and Canada.
The Painted Lady is said to have been given its name by Victorian butterfly collectors who likened the bright pink spots on the undersides of their wings to the painted rouged cheeks and bright red lips of ladies of the evening.
The caterpillars feed in silken tents on a wide range of food plants, including thistles, nettles and soya.