North American Ecology (US and Canada)
occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Breeding
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Pacific Slope from British Columbia to Baja California. Strays east to the western edge of the Great Plains.
Comments: Open, often disturbed areas, wherever its larval hosts, the family Malvaceae and the genus Urtica, occur.
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Comments: Common; less so in deserts and high mountains.
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Vanessa annabella
Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.
Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Vanessa annabella
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 11
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread, "weedy" species; very common in Calif. cities and suburbs on Malva negecia.
Degree of Threat: D : Unthreatened throughout its range, communities may be threatened in minor portions of the range or degree of variation falls within natural variation
Global Protection: Many to very many (13 to >40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed
West Coast lady
The West Coast lady (Vanessa annabella) is one of three North American species of brush-footed butterflies known colloquially as the "painted ladies". V. annabella occurs throughout much of the western US and south western Canada. The other two species are the cosmopolitan Vanessa cardui (painted lady) and the eastern Vanessa virginiensis (American painted lady). This species has also been considered a subspecies of the South American, Vanessa carye, and is frequently misspelled as "anabella".
Aside from general differences in distribution, V. annabella can be distinguished from the other two painted ladies of North America as follows:
Most conspicuously, it lacks obvious ventral eyespots on the hindwings; there are two large ones on V. virginiensis and four small ones on V. cardui. Like the latter, it also lacks a white dot in the pinkish-orange subapical field of the ventral and dorsal forewings. Its upperwing coloration has the purest orange of the three; the American painted lady is usually quite reddish.
A less reliable indicator is the row of black eyespots on the dorsal submarginal hindwing. These are usually of roughly equal size in V. cardui and lack blue centers, though the summer morph may have a few tiny ones. In the other two, usually two eyespots are larger and have more conspicuous blue centers. In V. virginiensis, these normally are the spot at each end of the row, whereas in the present species it is the two middle ones.
- See also Painted Lady
Note: both images are actually of Vanessa cardui, possibly with a slight amount of V. annabella genes due to interbreeding.
- West Coast Lady, Butterflies of Canada
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