The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Painted Lady butterfly

Afrikaans name: Sondagsrokkie

A beautiful image of a Painted Lady butterfly

The Painted Lady is the most widespread butterfly in the world

Photo © Adobe Stock

Vanessa cardui

The Painted Lady is a common and well-known species of butterfly. It occurs in most countries in the world. It can be found in suitable habitat throughout South Africa. In some areas of the world, such as Europe, this species undertakes migrations each year.

This butterfly has a wingspan of between 4 and 5 cm with females being a bit larger than the males. The sexes have similar colouration. The upper wings are salmon coloured with black and white. The underwing is more cryptically coloured, but the colouration still includes salmon, black and white.

Males are territorial and defend open patches as well as hill tops. They can be seen all year round and at times, during winter when they are not so territorial, may even be seen in groups. They can be found in a wide range of habitats including hilltops, flat lands, forest edges, grassland, savanna and even gardens.

As one would expect with a butterfly species with such a wide distribution the Painted Lady makes use of a wide range of plants for laying their eggs and, subsequently, the larvae to feed on. The adults feed on nectar and honeydew.

References and further reading

Wildlife of the Cape Peninsula - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 2001 - Page: 96

Wild About Johannesburg - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 1995 - Page: 85

Suburban Wildlife in KZN - Author: Dr. Jason Londt - Published: 2009 - Page: 78

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 248

The Sandton Field Guide - Author: Sandton Nature Conservation Society - Published: 1982 - Page: 170

Whats That Butterfly - Author: Steve Woodhall - Published: 2008 - Page: 889

Pocket Guide - Insects of South Africa - Author: Mike Picker & Charles Griffiths - Published: 2015 - Page: 128

Sasol First Field Guide to Butterflies & Moths of Southern Africa - Author: Simon van Noort - Published: 0 - Page: 19

Southern African Wildlife - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1989 - Page: 346

Insects of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Clarke H. Scholtz and Erik Holm - Published: 1989 - Page: 375

Ivor Migdolls Field Guide to the Butterflies of Southern Africa - Author: Ivor Migdoll - Published: 1987 - Page: 173

Butterfly Gardening in South Africa - Author: Jill Reid - Published: 2000 - Page: 51

Butterfly Gardening in South Africa - Author: Jill Reid - Published: 2000 - Page: 86

Familiar South African Butterflies - Author: Clive Quickelberge - Published: 1986 - Page: 37

Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa - 1st edition - Author: Steve Woodhall - Published: 2005 - Page: 138

Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa - 2nd edition - Author: Steve Woodhall - Published: 2020 - Page: 144

Field Guide to Insects of South Africa - Author: Mike Picker, Charles Griffiths and Alan Weaving - Published: 0 - Page: 384

Gardening for Butterflies - Author: Steve Woodhall & Lindsay Gray - Published: 2015 - Page: 57

Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd edn - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1991 - Page: 399

Butterflies of the Western Cape - Author: A.J.M. Claassens - Published: 2005 - Page: 34

Butterflies of the Kruger National Park - Author: Johan Kloppers and the late Dr. G. Van Son - Published: 1978 - Page: 72

Butterflies of Southern Africa - Author: Hugo Germishuys - Published: 1982 - Page: 51

Butterflies of Southern Africa - A field guide - Author: Mark Williams - Published: 1994 - Page: 69


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