Painted Lady
Vanessa cardui


The painted lady butterfly migrates to the UK from North Africa, The Middle East and Southern Europe. It isn't known why it migrates though, because there is no obvious seasonal or geographic reason. We can see a lot of these on the wetlands throughout summer, and they enjoy the buddleia that have self-seeded on the embankments around The Mere and The Island Lake. In a good summer (a year with a major migration), they can be found all over the UK. However, they can't survive our winter as it is just too cold.

Painted Lady facts and statistics

• Relatively large: wingspan 5.8 - 7.4cm
• The caterpillars eat thistles
• Adults eat nectar from a range of flowers including buddleia in your garden.

How to identify

Painted lady butterflies have an orange background with black spots. The tips of their forewings contrast and are orange with white spots.

Conservation status

It is common and there are currently no concerns.


• Grassland
• Gardens
• Lowlands
• Farmland
• Wetlands
• Woodlands

Ways to help

Plant your garden with nectar-rich plants for butterflies to feed on. This will encourage them to visit your gardens where you can see them up-close, first-hand. You can also leave out pieces of fruit on plates for them to feed on. The riper, the better. Every summer there is a Big Butterfly Count, organised by Butterfly Conservation, which you can take part in, where you log each sighting in your garden. This helps to spot the species that are prevalent in the UK and estimate their population sizes, as well as implement any protective measures.

Painted Lady sightings at Grimsargh Wetlands

Painted Lady Gallery

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