to know a lady….

American Painted Lady 1 copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg

This lady prefers to be alone; she’s not the social butterfly. So when you spot her you are unlikely to see anyone else like her. Look for a white dot in the orange area on the inside of both top wings because the two large eyespots on each lower wing aren’t enough of an identifier to be sure it’s her. She winters in the south, sometimes as far south as Central America. Her summer home this year is my garden. I consider her, an American Painted Lady
(Vanessa virginiensis), a rare visitor in my yard though she is not included on any endangered list for Illinois or the Midwest. Her eyespots remind me of the Buckeye butterfly, a regularly seen childhood favorite of mine which is also officially not endangered, but I sure haven’t seen in years.

American Painted Lady 2 copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg


American Painted Lady 3 copyright 2012 Pamela Breitberg

A very similar species is “The Painted Lady is most similar and can easily be confused with the American Lady from a distance. Below, this species has two large spots on the hindwing, while the Painted Lady has four smaller spots. Above, the American Lady has thinner and fewer black lines in the forewing, and therefore has a more open appearance than the Painted Lady” from

For more information on this other favorite of mine, the Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) look at these prior posts:

  • You’ve got personality….
  • Two of a kind…
  • Berries and barbs in winter…

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