Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Visit from the Painted Ladies By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino
Recently I noticed a large group of colorful butterflies on my fall aster plants. These butterflies are Vanessa cardui more commonly known as the Painted Ladies.
Due to favorable spring conditions in California, which helped these butterflies find the right host plants to lay their eggs, and then favorable weather and host plant conditions during the summer to aid in their nutrition, these colorful insects are numerous this year.  
Painted Ladies are native to the Western states and must migrate south beginning in the fall since they can’t tolerate winter weather. They are often mistaken for Monarch Butterflies, which are very widely known, however they tend to be much smaller and their colors are similar but not as vivid as Monarchs.
If you are fortunate to have some of these colorful pollinators in your garden, take some time to observe and enjoy them before they leave for their long journey south. Make note of the plants they are visiting to ensure that when they return next season that you will have some of their favorites growing that will provide what they need for nutrition and shelter.
The following fact sheet from Colorado State University has complete information on the Painted Lady butterflies:

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino