The Painted Lady (Vanessa Cardui)
The Painted Lady (Vanessa Cardui) arrives in the UK from Africa every year. This year (2009) saw a mass migration with millions of butterflies arriving in the UK over the May Bank Holiday aided by the unusually warm weather, it was believed to be the largest migration seen in this country since the 1960s.
The Painted Lady Butterfly is a beautiful specimen with a forewing that bears a distinct white bar. The hind wing has a row of 5 tiny black dots while the upper side of the freshly emerged butterfly is orange with rose-like overtones. The underside is a spotted gray, brown, and black.
The butterflies have sensors on their wings that need the sun to fly. These creatures are solar powered and they are active during the day. They have tiny scales on their wings that give them their color.
The Painted Lady has a metamorphosis period of about one month, that’s from being an egg to a caterpillar to a butterfly.
The Egg stage: The female lays many pale-green eggs in a row on a leaf, after a seven-day period the baby caterpillars are ready to hatch, they eat their way out of the egg and then eat the shell.
The Larva stage: The caterpillar spends its life eating; as it grows bigger it sheds its old skin and emerges with a new body. After two weeks of being a caterpillar it attaches itself with silk thread and hangs upside down from a leaf. After about twenty-four hours the caterpillar’s skin will split exposing the pupa.
The Pupa Stage: After the pupa is exposed to air for about an hour it hardens, it is bronze in color and hangs with no movement for one week. Inside the pupa the caterpillar is changing its body into a butterfly.
The Butterfly Stage: The butterfly hangs on the leaf for about an hour while its wings straighten out. It has a head, thorax, abdomen and four wings. It also has six legs, however only four are used. The butterfly also has two eyes made up of 10,000 lenses. The butterfly’s tongue, known as a proboscis, is used to drink nectar. It can also hear with the two antennae attached to its head, taste through its feet and breath through the side of its body.
The adult butterfly flies away looking for a mate to start the whole process over again