I must have seen them all most young life, in not yet all-built Brooklyn, New York, then in Queens, New York and later in Long Island New York. Unlike some, I didn’t own field guides, nor did I work to learn butterfly names, but, I’m sure in saw Painted Lady butterflies those first 2+ decades.
I was in my 50’s when I earnestly went out and sought butterflies. It grabbed me, with the intensity you feel when you begin reading a book that you immediately love, and almost cannot put down. Butterflies provided so much fascination for me, there were so many of them and there’d be no “I did it!.” That could never happen because I knew I’d never have the time or money or inclination to climb rocky peaks to see all of the butterflies of the USA.
Painted Ladies were among my early favorites. They were numerous around the state parks near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and they would always come out to sunny spots on trails to ‘greet’ me. They were my sometimes trail buddies.
Like many brushfoot butterflies, you couldn’t distinguish males from females? Not in the field you couldn’t. That brought up the bothersome thought of the name chosen for these brave butterflies: Painted Lady. How I grew up was you had to be able to “handle yourself” on the streets (give it and take it), cry? never. Someone bothers your brother or sisters, you take care of that. Someone “calls you out” in school, you meet them after school, never within sight of the school building or the schoolyard, and you do what you do. No ‘millennial’ Jeff, you had to be tough, or kind of stay in your house . . .
I’ve thought often of who it was that named the male Painted Ladies such? These Leps are tough little wild animals, and I’ve always thought they never deserved the name that they got. You must forgive me if you have another opinion here. Mine is etched in my brain, vital it was for survival. Mine was not the Father Knows Best childhood.
You can stop wondering about this handsome Painted Lady. Jeffrey Glassberg cites them as the “planet’s most cosmopolitan butterfly.” Found on every continent, they are all nearly identical. This one was met in Ramat Hanadiv, near the Mediterranean Sea in the HolyLand, Israel.