A species of the thistle butterfly genus, which is named after the larval Painted Lady's (V. cardui) food plant, thistles (Cirsium and Carduus spp.). In Canada this genus is represented by four species all of which generally don't overwinter in Canada. Vanessa species are part of the Nymphalinae subfamily. The American Lady is sometimes listed as the American Painted Lady or the Painted Beauty.|
Identification: Upperside is tawny orange and brown with darker margins. Forewing tips are black with white spots. Upper hindwings have several black spots, some with blue centers near the wing's margin. The underside has a cryptic pattern with two large eyespots near the hindwing's outer margin.
Life History: Two broods. Migratory, overwintering in United States and perhaps in southern Ontario. Larvae are black with white or yellow cross bands, a lateral row of wide spots and red based black spines. Adults are fast flyers, frequently alighting on flowers with their wings spread.
Habitat and Range: Old fields, roadsides, meadows, and forest clearings. In the Ottawa District its abundance varies from absent to common, but most years it is uncommon. In Ontario it is widespread and frequently seen in the south. It has been recorded in all provinces but is more common in eastern Canada.
Host Plants: Asteraceae such as everlastings and cudweeds.
Flight Period: Usually arrives from the south in May and new generations can be seen from June to late September.
Similar Species: In Ontario the only similar species is the Painted Lady which can be distinguished by its pinkish-brown colour, the absence of blue centered eyespots on the top hindwings and a row of five eyespots on the underside hindwings.