Five fun facts about painted lady butterflies

painted lady butterfly

  1. The painted lady isn't picky. Unlike many butterflies that have certain host plants that they lay eggs on and that caterpillars eat --- the monarch butterfly host plant is milkweed --- the painted lady has been noted to have more than 100 host plants. Caterpillars will eat thistles, hollyhocks and legumes. It is sometimes called the thistle butterfly because it likes thistles.
    As an adult, the butterflies enjoy nectar from many different flowers too --- thistles, asters, blazing star, ironweed, Joe pye weed and more.
  2. They're found around the world. Painted lady butterflies aren't limited to the U.S. or even North America. In fact, they are found on all continents except Australia and Antarctica. It is the most widely-distributed butterfly in the world.
  3. Painted ladies are tougher than their name sounds.  Painted ladies migrate seasonally and can fly up to 100 miles per day at nearly 30 miles per hour. They don't stay in cold regions during the winter, but you might see them later in the season than monarchs because painted ladies can migrate so quickly.
  4. They live in silk houses. Some caterpillars like to stay covered as a protection. For instance, red admiral caterpillars live in the shelter of folded leaves. Painted ladies weave a tent-like structure from silk, and you can often see these fluffy shelter on thistles.
  5. Painted ladies have good camouflage. Although they are bright orange, white and brownish-black on top, painted ladies are a mottled brown when their wings are closed. It helps them to easily blend into their surroundings.

underside of a painted lady