True Brushfooted Butterflies

American Lady

Vanessa virginiensis

Picture taken May 18, 2007

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Superclass Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Subclass Pterygota (Winged Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies)
Family Nymphalidae (Brushfooted Butterflies)
Subfamily Nymphalinae (Crescents, Checkerspots, Anglewings, etc.)
Genus Vanessa
Species virginiensis (American Lady)


Wing span: 1 3/4 - 2 5/8 inches (4.5 - 6.7 cm).

Larvae feed on Plants in the sunflower family everlasting (Gnaphalium obtusifolium), pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea), plantain-leaved pussy toes (Antennaria plantaginifolia), wormwood (Artemisia), ironweed (Vernonia), and burdock (Arctium).

Habitat: Open places with low vegetation including dunes, meadows, parks, vacant lots, forest edges.

Picture taken June 17, 2008 on dead end at Able road.

Over the summer, I spotted this particular butterfly several times. I attempted to take additional photographs, but none were as willing to pose later in the season.


The American Lady may over-winter some years, having been sighted early in the spring on occasion. This is unconfirmed for wisconsin as far as I can find.

The American Lady yearly numbers can vary greatly, however, for the last few years on Crex Meadows, I typically see single individuals when they are around.

The American Lady can be confused with the Painted Lady when viewing from above. From below, these two butterflies are very different.

Sightings Chart

Sightings Chart

Identification Tips:

When viewing from above with wings open, look at the forewing. The black lines are thinner in the disc area of the forewing, when compared to the Painted Lady.

The American Lady often has a white spot on the forewing, in the Submarginal area. This spot can be seen from underside view of the forewing. This white spot can fade so it cannot be a primary ID source, however, if it is seen, it is an ID feature.

Viewing the American Lady from below, the hindwing has two large spots and are an ID feature. The similar Painted lady has four smaller spots on the underside of the hindwing.


Research Page that is asking for information on the Red Admiral and American Lady Here

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