Monday, May 17, 2010

American Painted Lady

The American Painted Lady butterflies are busy laying eggs on the Pussytoe leaves. We’re in the peak of the first of what could be four broods before the end of September. It’s a good thing the Pussytoes are such prolific growers. At the rate females are laying eggs, a slow growing plant could be totally consumed by the number of larvae that will soon be munching the leaves.

Egg laying strategies vary. Many of the females get their heads down to the base of the plant and then turn around and crawl back up the leaf. During the ascent, they will deposit one egg somewhere in the middle or lower part of the leaf.

Other females are more casual and take a land-and-lay approach. Despite the method employed, individual females appear to use the same technique each time they visit a new plant.

The green eggs closely match the leaf color. In some cases the hairs on the leaves appear to have been pulled over the egg. I find a lot of eggs on the leaves, but when I come back later to look for larvae, I have very little luck.

When taking shots of moving butterflies, I try to anticipate the direction of travel and position myself where I can intercept the subject. In this case I was too accurate with my predicted destination. The butterfly came straight at me and chose to visit a plant located between my boot heals. It took some stretching to get twisted around for this shot. Fortunately, after she laid a couple of eggs here, she visited a dozen more plants within a few feet of me.


  1. I saw a few Painted Ladies yesterday. I didn't realize they were laying eggs, but after reading your post, I know that's what they were doing!

  2. I have not seen any butterflies as yet but, I'm sure there here somewhere but I just haven't noticed!!! Great photos especially those eggs!! They blend so well with that leaf!! Informative !! Hope your not sore from getting that last shot!! ;)

  3. Nice job getting them in the act of oviposition!

  4. Kelly - Egg laying is the most common activity I observe. I rarely see them doing anything else.

    grammie g - My back may creak a bit, but I'm still limber enough to twist around and see behind.

    Thanks, Ted. The credit should probably go to the female butterflies. They usually dropped the tip of their abdomen as soon as they landed on the host plant.

  5. I see that you may become my go-to guy for butterfly and other insect ID. I've been relying on a couple of field guides with some success, but I'd much rather come here for help. Your blog is wonderful. Aha, another Night Stalker fan! Even better.

  6. walk2write - Thanks for visiting. I've always wondered how anyone could not be a fan of the Night Stalker.