Friday 24 July 2009

Home-grown Painted Ladies

All of a sudden, Buddleia blooms across the city today were decorated with fresh-looking bright coloured Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui). The contrast with the faded, worn first individual I photographed this year (see this previous post and also an extreme example here) was stark. Most of today's butterflies were likely to have been born in the U.K., the offspring of the migrating individuals. It is unclear how many generations of Painted Lady happen every year, as there is a lot of overlapping. According research carried out by the Spanish researcher Constanti Stefanescu, the whole cycle outdoors takes 6 to 8 weeks depending of the temperature, and he estimated 3 to 4 generations for NW Spain. The number of generations must be more limited here, with the cooler climate, and is likely that these fresh-looking butterflies will become the returning generation and they are not interested in breeding anymore, but in fattening up for their lengthly return to North Africa
Feeding against the sky
A fresh Painted Lady sunbathing on a wall
More information
Stefanescu, C. (1997) Migration patterns and feeding resources of the Painted Lady butterfly, Cynthia cardui (L.) (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae) in the northeast of the Iberian peninsula. Miscel.lania Zoologica, 20: 31-48.

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