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Image of American Lady
Unresolved name

American Lady

Vanessa virginiensis

North American Ecology (US and Canada)

provided by North American Butterfly Knowledge Network
Vanessa virginiensis (the American painted lady) is resident throughout the United States and southern Canada, and migratory northward from there, and ranges south to Venezuela and the Greater Antilles, straying rarely to southwest Europe and other places (Scott 1986). Habitats are nearly everywhere in open areas from subtropics to lower Canadian zone. Host plants are herbaceous and include species from many families with a preference for Compositae (tribe Inuleae), but also including Borginaceae, Leguminosae, Malvaceae, Urticaceae, Balsaminaceae, and Scrophulariaceae. Eggs are laid on the host plant singly. Individuals overwinter as adults, and possibly pupae. There are variable numbers of flights each year depending on latitude, with many flights all year in the southern parts of their range, and only two flights in the north (Scott 1986).
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Leslie Ries
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Leslie Ries

Conservation Status

provided by University of Alberta Museums
A rare migrant, not established in Alberta.
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Cyclicity

provided by University of Alberta Museums
There are two Alberta records are from July and one from September.
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Distribution

provided by University of Alberta Museums
Southern Canada (one record from Churchill, MB) south to Colombia (Opler 1999).
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General Description

provided by University of Alberta Museums
The two large eyespots on the hindwing underside separate this species from the numerous smaller eyespots of the other ladies (V. cardui and V. annabella). There are no described subspecies.
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Habitat

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No defined habitat preferences in Alberta; occurs as a rare migrant only.
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Life Cycle

provided by University of Alberta Museums
The caterpillar is black with a complex pattern of yellow or white bands and lateral spots. The spines are black with a red base (Layberry et al. 1998). The American Lady is rare in western Canada, and occurs only as an occasional migrant; it is more common in eastern Canada, where it forms two additional generations after immigrating in May (Layberry et al. 1998). Judging by the dates, the Alberta specimens may have originated from migrants of these second and third generations; perhaps this species 'leap-frogs' northward with progressive generations in good years.
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Trophic Strategy

provided by University of Alberta Museums
The larvae feed on member of the aster family (Asteraceae), particularly cudweed (Gnaphalium spp.) and and everlasting (Antennaria spp.) (Layberry et al. 1998). There are no larval records for western Canada (Guppy & Shepard 2001).
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University of Alberta Museums