Dubbed the “world’s most widespread butterfly (Cech and Tudor, 2005),” this hunk is shown as he was seriously patrolling his territory at the remarkable arboretum, Ramat Hanadiv, in Israel. Imagine, the images of Painted lady butterflies shared in Butterflies of the East Coast (Princeton University Press) are nearly identical to this photo, despite the nearly 7,000 miles that separate these populations.
Sporting a wardrobe pleasing list of Vanessa cardui‘s best looks, including good-sized white spots amidst a wash of full black, eye-pleasing orangey-brown, white wing fringes, and hindwing eyespots dabbed with centers of baby-blue. All carefully patterned together to insure that we savor this show-stopper. Surely, receptive females will take note.
These gardens at Ramat Hanadiv are among my favorite destinations in Israel. The perennial gardens are lushly planted with gazillions of nectaring blooms, and, after a morning of photographing butterflies, the excellent cafe/restaurant is … right there, at the entrance to the planted beds. I have been going there for years now. Shoot until the sun gets too high…then walk 50 feet into the air- conditioned eatery for tasty gluten-free (for me, regular for y’all) selections + (of course) … dessert. Then walk another 100 feet to the generous parking lot, and off you go, satiated, smiling and mission accomplished. Good.
This butterfly is beloved across the Globe. Vanessa Cardui enjoying a brief break from the work of gathering nectar from this hybridized Joe Pye Weed in the Butterfly Perennial Garden at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland.
A good candidate for folks who are beginning a serious campaign to photograph butterflies, because when Painted Ladies nectar, they tolerate a close approach, and they can be depended upon to remain motionless and nicely posed for brief, but long-enough intervals. When not feeding, they are almost unapproachable, playing it seems, the I fly 10 feet away, let’s do that again game.
Both this Vanessa and Vanessa Atalanta (Red Admirals) are well known and good friends to devoted gardeners. When tedium almost begins to set in, suddenly a Vanessa appears as if out of nowhere. They usually remain long enough to lighten your mood . . . then these spreaders of cheer fly off to titillate yet another gardener toiling in soil, somewhere nearby.
Which continents enjoy this magnificent butterfly?
Answer: All continents except Antarctica.
How can we understand their ability to colonize and breed in so many diverse places?
Answer: They enjoy many, many different hosting plants.
Where do they winter-over in the Northeastern U.S.? In tree hollows? Under the forest leaf covered floor? Under rocks and fallen timber?
Answer: They don’t winter-over in the Northeastern U.S..
Why don’t they winter-over from Georgia to Maine?
Answer: They cannot tolerate freezing temperatures.
So where do Vanessa cardui found in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina originate from?
Answer: The Mexican Plateau!
OK. Then which U.S. airlines bring them up from there?
Answer: None. They fly up from south of the border (Mexican) on their own gossamer wings.
in the instant example, the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory offers a gourmet nectar menu for this Painted Lady.
When can we hope to see them in Pittsburgh in 2013?
Answer: Late April to May. Another joy of springtime.
Here it was the first week in October and you would think that butterflies would be few and far between. Nope. Our Vanessa cardui, challenged by the limited selection of nectaring wildflowers, has settled for a meal of Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) sugars.
Judging from the condition of this individual, it would appear that it was produced by a late in the season brood.
Our other posts of Ladies included several that triumphantly were scored after stealthy stalking up to the butterfly. Not necessary this time, because our instant butterfly is 100% engrossed imbibing nectar. Only a reasonably careful approach was necessary.
An occasional visitor to home gardens, their visit is usually a very brief one, and then whooost, gone!
Not known to overwinter here in eastern U.S., the last brood flies all the way to the Mexican plateau. Very impressive, that.