Vanessa cardui

Beginner Rearing Instructions: Painted Lady

Photo Life HistoryVanessa cardui

Habitat:  Mountain Canyons; Pinyon Juniper; Agricultural Areas; Valley Wet Meadows; Mountain Hilltops; Arctic Alpine; Wetlands, Forest, Valley Lakes & Rivers; Desert Hills & Mountains; Desert Washes; Urban-Suburban

Host Plants:  Cirsium vulgare; Helianthus annuus; Malva neglecta; Sida hederacea; Sphaeralcea ambigua

Suitable Lab Host Plants:  Any thistles work great in the lab.

Caring for Live Female Butterflies:  Feed females regularly.

Methods of Female Oviposition:  Portable Cages

How to Find Eggs:  Eggs are not too difficult to find during the spring when northern migrations are strong.

How to Hatch Eggs:  Consolidate eggs into one container

How to Find Caterpillars in the Field:  Finding caterpillars is not too difficult if you search for their unique nests around May or June.

Caterpillar setups:  Open terrariums; Open Bucket; Closed Container

Larva to Pupa:  Caterpillar silks to leaf or twig; creates and attaches cremaster; hanging as a J before pupating.

How to Find Pupae in the Field: 

Number of Broods per Year: 2-4 depending upon location.

Overwintering Stage:  Adult.   

Overwintering Strategies:

Post-Hibernation Strategies:

Avoiding Diapause Techniques:  

Disease Prevention:  Change out host plant and remove frass every three to five days using the open terrarium method.  Remove frass daily and replace thistle leaves every other day using the closed container technique.  Handle host plant with care.

Emergence:  Emergence Container

Field Notes: Raising painted ladies can either be easy or difficult depending upon the strength of their northern migrations.  During years of mass migrations, finding caterpillars in their nests on thistles is not too difficult.  It is also not too difficult to obtain ova by following females as they investigate weeds and lay eggs on thistles.