American lady butterfly life cycle

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This is an update on the caterpillars I found on pussytoes. This is one of the caterpillars shortly before it made a chrysalis.

American Lady Butterfly caterpillar

The chrysalises were about ¾ inch long. Some were grey and others, like this one, were yellowish-green.

American Lady Butterfly chrysalis

The medium-sized butterflies emerged in about ten days. This American lady butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis) looks very similar to the painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui). However, the painted lady has four small ‘eyes’ on the underside of its hind wings. As seen here, the American lady has two big ‘eyes’.

American Lady Butterfly below

The top view is so different it would be easy to think it’s a different butterfly.

American Lady Butterfly above

From tiny egg to beautiful butterfly is an amazing process. I’m reminded of the first verse of Mary Oliver’s poem, “Mysteries, Yes.”

“Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood.”

I totally agree.

9 thoughts on “American lady butterfly life cycle”

  1. Beautiful “cat” photo. I have some in my butterfly house now feasting on “cudweed”. Host plants for Painted Lady more difficult to find. The difference between closed wing and open wing of the “ladies” is amazing!

    I so enjoy your posts Betty….keep them coming!

  2. Wow Betty!
    What splendid pics in this latest post. Amazing caterpillar, and to follow a beautiful
    butterfly, what wonderful markings, and so similar to our Painted Lady.
    Thank you once again for these great photos.

  3. What a beautiful butterfly “this lady” is. We may have it visit us or may be it is a similar one.
    But only three sightings of Monarch butterflies have been seen here so far; and we are so very ready for them with hundreds of milkweeds and other food supplies. How sad and how we miss them.
    Thank you Betty for this beautiful life cycle.

    1. Louise, sorry you aren’t seeing Monarchs. I’ve had 3 in my yard so far but none of them stayed around very long – and no eggs of caterpillars. Others have also seen them and I’ve had 2 reports of caterpillars which is encouraging. This is better than last year when I didn’t see a monarch until August. I can imagine how discouraging it is to have the milkweeds and no monarchs. I’m hoping you will still see them.

  4. Your pictures are georgeous. The Painted Lady infested all of my licorice plants with eggs again this year and hopefully are breeding more in my butterfly house. Also here in Wisconsin I find the Black Swallowtail caterpillars on my dill. It’s been fun seeing how many I can release each year.

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