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.
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.
Chappaqua, NY? Richmond, Virginia? Asheville, North Carolina? Knoxville, Tennessee? Cleveland, Ohio? Nope. Ramat Hanadiv Arboretum in Israel!
Painted Lady butterflies are among the most universal of all butterfly species. They differ little in appearance, behavior, flower preference, and difficulty in approaching.
Vanessa cardui fly to a wide variety of flowers. Their flight is quick, often flying in circular loops, and is excellent for eluding predators.
These Israeli Ladies are quite territorial, flying away when approached, but returning within moments to where they were moments before.
Photographing Vanessa is best accomplished when the butterfly has alighted on a leaf to rest, or as in this image, when it is nectaring.
An endearing butterfly, whose wiles cause you to work to get new images of it, even when your better judgment tells you that you already have….