NewsSeptember 20 2017

The Invasion of the Painted Ladies

Posted by Lucy

The invasion of the Painted Ladies   
   Have you noticed swarms of monarch-like butterflies feeding in your garden lately? Maybe you even thought they were monarchs. They are Painted Ladies and although they have some of the same coloring as monarchs, they are smaller and have dots on their lower wings, while monarchs have black lines.
    Painted Ladies, also called Cosmopolitan, Latin name Vanessa virginiensis have overrun gardens not only in South Dakota, but other states as well, as they bunch up prior to their migration south.
    The butterflies especially love purple and pink flowers on such plants as sedum, purple coneflower and New England aster. But they will suck nectar from just about any late-blooming plant, so they should be easy to find in backyards, community gardens and nature preserves.
    Some people might notice the insects smacking their windshields.
    You’ll also find them on gravel roads, where they suck water from puddles. The water in the puddles has minerals that the painted ladies need.
    Painted Ladies lay their eggs on plants that they like to eat, like hollyhocks and thistles.      
    They may also like soybeans. The butterfly lives for about two weeks, long enough to flutter around our gardens and lay eggs for the next generation. The life cycle of a Painted Lady is about one month from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly to egg.

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