Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) French name: La Belle Dame

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

French name: La Belle Dame

It’s been a gorgeous summer so far here in France. Temperatures have rarely dipped below mid 20c and the sun has seldom disappeared. Although the garden is dry and my potager is gasping for water, the warm weather has certainly brought out the butterflies in their droves.  At times, whilst wandering around the garden, I’ve felt like I’ve been walking through a curtain of butterflies all busily dancing from plant to plant or waltzing with each other in the air.

Yesterday I found this lovely lady feasting on my Verbena bonariensis.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) French name: La Belle Dame

Although this butterfly can be found throughout France during the summer months, its life is quite fascinating. The Painted Lady does not reside in France, each year it migrates from North Africa to spend the summer months scattered throughout Europe. As the weather cools, it begins its long flight back home to North Africa, where is spends the autumn and winter months.

It was only in 2012, thanks to radar tracking, that the Painted Lady was recognized as having the world’s longest return migration pattern. During migration these butterflies can travel at altitudes of up to 1000m and at speeds of up to 30 mph! To complete the 9000 mile round trip, it can take up to six successive generations of the butterfly, each laying its eggs, the caterpillars hatching and feeding before pupating into the next butterfly to continue the long journey.

When in France, the Painted Lady butterfly can be found in diverse habitats, from coastal to mountainous areas, or as in the case here, the hills of the Millevaches Natural Regional Park, Corrèze.

I feel particularly happy that this Lady decided to spend a few minutes feeding on my Verbena before perhaps starting on her homeward journey back to North Africa.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) French name: La Belle Dame

If you’ve seen a Painted Lady butterfly in your garden, I’d love to know so please do leave a comment in the box below

A bientôt

Katherine x

Many thanks to the following sources BBC Nature News  and Eurobutterflies

'Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)' have 3 comments

  1. August 8, 2016 @ 2:52 pm Our French Oasis

    What a beautiful summer we are having here on the coast in the Charente Maritime too. We have seen one Painted Lady in our garden this last week. Last year we saw lots but at the end of August, they certainly have not arrived here in any number yet.


  2. September 16, 2017 @ 4:04 pm Paul

    A favourite spot for Painted Ladies in our garden at Uzès is our Strawberry trees. These trees also attract masses of Red Admirals on a sunny day when the trees are in flower and fruit at the same time in Autumn. A treat shortly to come again, and a wonderful sight!


    • September 16, 2017 @ 4:21 pm Katherine

      Thank you so much for reminding me about this tree. I’ve seen it in the past and thought it was lovely, and if butterflies love it too then it’s perfect! I’ve just popped it on my wish list.


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Le Jardin Perdu 2018. All images and posts are the property of Katherine Forshaw

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