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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Painted Lady - Vanessa cardui


Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 2.5-3.5 cm. Uppersurface orange-brown with darker wing bases, forewing apical area black with white spots and white subapical bar on leading edge, hindwing with a submarginal row of 5 small black spots that sometimes have blue scales; undersurface of hindwing with a black, brown, and gray pattern, 4 small submarginal eyespots.

Phenology
Several flights throughout the year in Texas, southern Florida, southern California; fewer farther north (Scott 1986). Mostly March and April to October and November (Glassberg 2001). April to October in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978); early March to late October in Oregon (Warren 2005); early April to early November in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002); May to October in southeastern British Columbia (Threatful 1988).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by a combination of the upper surface of forewing apical area black with white spots and white subapical bar on leading edge, uppersurface of hindwing with submarginal row of 5 small black spots that sometimes have blue scales; undersurface of hindwing with 4 small submarginal eyespots.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
Occurs on all continents except Australia and Antarctica. In North America from southeastern Alaska and subarctic Canada south throughout the continental US and Mexico (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002); to 3962 m elevation in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978); to 3200 m in Wyoming (Nabokov 1953). In Montana, reported from across the state and in every county (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993). Common to abundant, but rare to common in Pacific Northwest (Glassberg 2001).

Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 18

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Relative Density

Recency

 

(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Migratory; northward in spring and summer through several generations of adults, last flight southward in autumn (Scott 1986; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002).

Habitat
Open situations; fields, marshes, montane forest clearings, prairies, dunes, thorn scrub, deserts, suburbs, gardens, to above treeline in alpine terrain (Nabokov 1953; Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). In Glacier National Park Montana, reported from montane mesic meadows (Debinski 1993), but probably occurs in most open situations some years.

Food Habits
Larval food plants very diverse (more than 100 species), with several species of Cirsium especially favored; other species include Achillia, Althaea, Anaphalis, Arctium, Artemesia, Carduus, Centaria, Citrus, Cryptantha, Fragaria, Helianthus, Helianthella, Lupinus, Malva, Medicago, Mentha, Nicotiana, Plantago, Prunus, Rhamnus, Rudbeckia, Rumex, Salvia, Senecio, Solanum, Trifolium, Ulmus, Urtica, and Wyethia (Scott 1986, 1992, 2006). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Achillea, Allium, Alyssum, Anemone, Apocynum, Arctostaphylos, Arnica, Asclepias, Astragalus, Barbarea, Berberis, Buddleia, Calyptridium, Carduus, Ceanothus, Centaurea, hrysanthemum, Chrysothamnus, Cirsium, Cryptantha, Delphinium, Dipsacus, Dryas, Echinacea, Erigeron, Erioganum, Erysimum, Grindelia, Haplopappus, Helianthus, Helianthella, Heterotheca, Jamesia, Lesquerella, Lobelia, Lonicera, Medicago, Mertensia, Monarda, Oxytropis, Penstemon, Phacelia, Phlox, Physocarpus, Polygonum, Prunus, Pyrus, Ranunculus, Rubus, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Sedum, Senecio, Solidago, Symphoricarpos, Syringa, Taraxacum, Thalaspi, Tilia, Trifolium, Verbena, Viburnum, Viola, and Zinnia), rotting fruit, sap, dung, and mud (Pyle 2002; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly on the undersides of host plant leaves (Scott 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Eggs hatch in about 6 days (depending on temperature), develop rapidly, take about 21 days from egg-hatch to L5 instar and pupation; adults eclose (emerge from pupae) about 10 days after pupation. Larvae usually solitary, build silk nest completely surrounding larvae on host plant leave. Larvae usually wander before pupating, but some may pupate on host plant. Autumn adults migrate south or die (Guppy and Shaepard 2001; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005; James and Nunnallee 2011), although adults may hibernate in Colorado and some other southern regions (Scott 1986, 1992). Males perch and sometimes patrol, often on hilltop shrubs, awaiting or searching for passing females (Scott 1975).

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Painted Lady — Vanessa cardui.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from