The Painted Lady has a wing span of 50-60 mm. It is easy to recognize, and there are almost no variations. The orange colour might be blurred by dark "scales". In rare cases are the circular spots in the seams of the back wings larger and blue in the middle.
The Painted Lady arrives (to Denmark) from North Africa in May-June or (infrequently) in April. Danish descendants fly from late July until beginning of October. As a migrating butterfly it is seen everywhere and breeds in all sorts of open areas. In the migration periods it is often seen in large numbers in flower-rich spots along the coast.
It cannot overwinter in Denmark, neither as a grown-up butterfly nor as egg, caterpillar and chrysalis. In North Africa, from where the Danish migrators origin, flies the Painted Lady all year and propagates especially in the winter period.
The caterpillar's fodderplants are thistles (Carduus and Cirsium) and many other composites and nettle (Urtica) and several other low plants.
The flight is quick and whirring, and in the migrations the Painted Lady might appear in hundred- thousands or in millions. It is attraced to many various flowers, especially Eupatorium (named bonesets, thoroughworts or snakeroots), thistles and buddleias in gardens.
The frequency is variable, depending on the arrival from the south. The Painted Lady might completely fail to come in some years - and most years it is only seen in few numbers. In Denmark it arrives in large numbers in average every 10th year. It was extremely numerous in 1988 and 1996. Seen and found all over the country.
Source: Michael Stoltze: Dagsommerfugle i Danmark, 1997.
The Painted Lady in other countries: Wikipedia
photo Mindeparken 31. August 2010: grethe bachmann