Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (Linnaeus, 1758)

Superfamily: Papilionoidea Family: Nymphalidae Status: Resident in Madeira

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui

Recommended tours to watch this butterfly

Full-day birdwatching
Half-day birdwatching
Note: when booking any of these tours please state your interest in butterflies.


A medium-large orange and black butterfly. Its uppersides are orangy with black spots and some white spots on the superior part of the postdiscal and submarginal regions of the fore-wings. The basal parts are hairy brown.
Its undersides are pale brown with four bluish postdiscal eye-spots on the hind-wing while the fore-wing still has some orange with black and white spots.

Vanessa cardui Caterpillars

Host & Food Plants

In Madeira is has been seen feeding on Arctium minus, Artemisia vulgaris, Cirsium vulgare, Cynara cardunculus ferocissima, Galactites tomentosa, Malva parviflora and Malva sylvestris (Aguiar & Karsholt, 2006) though worldwide it is known to feed from several different species from the Cucurbitaceae, Asteraceae, Fabaceae, Vitaceae, Malvaceae and Brassicaceae families. (Tolman & Lewington, 2009).

Habitat & behaviour

This is a cosmopolitan butterfly normally associated with areas where the host plants are though it has a special interest on thistles.

Distribution in Atlantic Islands of Macaronesia:

Occurs in Madeira, Porto Santo, Deserta Grande, Selvagens Islands, Azores, Canary and Cape Verde archipelagos (Aguiar & Karsholt, 2006)


Regional status according to Aguiar & Karsholt, 2008: Native to Madeira archipelago
Regional status according to Wakeham-Dawson et al., 2001: Common migrant, but resident as well
Status according to the European Red List of Butterflies, 2010: Least Concern

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