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.
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.
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