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Santa Barbara Field Guides Butterflies
Lepidoptera
   Nymphalidae

     Vanessa cardui
     Painted Lady


upperside
underside

Size: wingspread 1.8-2.5 in.
Recognition: Black and orange with red spot in mid-leading edge of FW, also has more extensive black coloring near body than other ladies; HW has black spot row along bottom edge; eyespots of underside of HW small.
Flight period: Flies on the deserts all year, and from spring until fall in coastal and mountain areas.
Hostplants: Larvae may feed on an unusual variety of plants, from several families, including mallows (Malva), lupines (Lupinus), thistles (Cirsium), and nettles (Urtica).
Habitat: Many and most habitats, from urban parks, lots, fields and grassland, into montane and desert habitats.
Distribution: Throughout North America (excluding extreme northern areas) and into Central America. There is an active population on Santa Cruz Island.
Other: Following years with good winter rains in the deserts, they will sometimes migrate north by the millions in the spring.

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