Painted Lady or American Lady?

In response to Marty’s question ~

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) ~ Note the two large eyespots on the underside of the hindwing, close to the outer margin.

Marty your photo is that of the Painted Lady. Typically in our region we would most often see the American Lady however, this is an irruptive year for the Painted Lady. There has been a population explosion of Painted Ladies reported throughout New England and beyond, which is especially unusual and interesting because this past spring (2012) was also an irruptive year for the closely related Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta).

The easiest way to tell the difference: Painted Ladies have four large spots on the underside of their hindwings, close to the outer margins, which you can easily see in your lovely photo. American Ladies have two “eyespots” on each hindwing, and the spots are considerably larger.

Painted Lady  (Vanessa cardui) ~ Note the four large spots on the hindwing.

I am calling the summer of 2012 the “summer of ten thousand butterflies.” Just incredible! I would have answered this is in the comment section, but I don’t know if it is possible to add a photo and will post more in a future post about the two species but am in the middle of making dinner. Did you take this shot with your new camera?

About Kim Smith

Currently creating documentary films about the Monarch Butterfly, Black Swallowtail Butterfly, and Gloucester's Feast of St. Joseph. Landscape designer for the Gloucester Harbor Walk Gardens. Designer, lecturer, author, illustrator, photographer. Visit my blog for more information about my landscape and interior design firm- kimsmithdesigns.wordpress.com. Good Morning Gloucester daily contributor. Author/illustrator "Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden"
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6 Responses to Painted Lady or American Lady?

  1. Marty Luster says:

    Thanks for the clarification.
    The photo was one of the first shots with the Canon SX40 HS, It was hand-held at about 6 feet from the subject at 1000/sec, ISO 200,f 5.6 and at full focal length of 840mm (35mm equiv,).

  2. Kim, I knew a Kim Smith in Wenham. Since you are so knowledgeable on natural subjects I wonder if you are one and the same.

    • Kim Smith says:

      Kristen I don’t think we know each other unless it was through my husband Tom, who was the director of development at the Wenham Museum for several years. I have given several lectures at the Wenham Museum; perhaps we met there?

  3. Beautiful shots of those butterflies. Love the idea of calling this “Summer of Ten Thousand Butterflies”….we had lots of them this year too. Nice to hear something positive! Lovely thought.

  4. I love your posts.. learn something new

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