Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Species description
© - Nick Greatorex-Davies

The Painted Lady arrives in the UK in the spring as a migrant from North Africa every year, with numbers arriving fluctuating considerably from one year to the next. Vast numbers arrive in some years (e.g. 1996, 2009). Offspring from the early migrants can be seen until the first frosts in the autumn. Thistles (e.g. Circium spp.) are the most frequently used foodplant in the UK. Unlike our other Vanessids the adults do not normally survive our British winter. (For further details on this species see

Regular migrant
LCI summary

Log Collated

This chart shows the index of abundance (LCI = Log Collated Index) over time. It shows fluctuations in populations from year to year, and is scaled so that the average index over the whole series is equal to 2 (horizontal line). Further details on the analysis of UKBMS data can be found [here]

This chart shows the average number of butterflies seen on transects between April and October across all sites (fitted values from a Generalised Additive Model). The blue line gives average counts over the full BMS series (1976 to date) and the red line gives the average for the last year.

This map shows symbols for the mean abundance at transect sites, with the colour of the symbol reflecting the level of abundance. Means are over all years. Grey background squares are the occupied cells as shown by the Butterflies for the New Millenium over the previous ten year period.