Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

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2016 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

15332_male_Bouche du Rhône_22May09 15206_sex?_Var_11May09 13740_female?_Vaucluse_23Aug08
38621_sex?_Pyrénées-Orientales_17Jul15 0694_female_Var_16May06 40148_ovum_Var_19Apr16

2003 was an exceptional year for cardui and huge numbers arrived in the UK. At the very end of September 2003 and they were still arriving in numbers at the Dorset coast on the cliffs. In 2006 in southern France they were present everywhere in huge numbers, especially on Buddleia bushes where they could be counted in tens on each bush. They have mass migrations from north Africa in exceptional years and may even be semi-resident in the extreme south of Europe.

All of this was dwarfed by 2009 - the "Painted Lady Year" - when the migration was enormous, with a billion estimated to have reached the UK. I witnessed the start of the migration in southern France with a trail where one was flying overheard every three seconds for hours on end and this was being repeated all across the south coast of France. On my route back to the UK in July I saw hundreds on Buddleia bushes just south of Calais.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
15332 M

a fresh specimen, showing the beautiful fiery orange of the uph.

35
15206 ?

a slightly worn individual, perhaps not surprising for a migrant.

185
13740 F?

I suspect this is a female based on body shape and length.

750
38621 ? a fresh and crisply-marked individual. 1820
0694 F

the body shape suggested this was a female.

100
40148 OVUM a very young cardui - an egg laid only moments earlier. 220

 

15332_male_Bouche du Rhône_22May09

 

15206_sex?_Var_11May09

 

13740_female?_Vaucluse_23Aug08

 

38621_sex?_Pyrénées-Orientales_17Jul15

 

0694_female_Var_16May06

 

40148_ovum_Var_19Apr16