Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
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2021 photographs highlighted in yellow. 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|
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.
Subsequent years have produced much smaller numbers, but 2019 saw cardui in significant numbers, both in France and the UK, but nowhere near the mass migration of 2009.
a fresh specimen, showing the beautiful fiery orange of the uph.
a slightly worn individual, perhaps not surprising for a migrant.
I suspect this is a female based on body shape and length.
|48567||F||a female, but not quite the reddish hue of others, especially 13740. 48585 is the underside.||180|
|48585||F||a female, the underside of 48567. The unh ground colour is rather brown than grey, and the pattern gives a clue as to why cardui is of the same genus as Red Admiral (V. atalanta), a species it hardly resembles in any other respect.||180|
|38621||?||a fresh and crisply-marked individual.||1820|
|44610||?||another underside, slightly more subtle in colouring than 38621.||1550|
|40148||OVUM||a very young cardui - an egg laid only moments earlier.||220|
15332_male_Bouche du Rhône_22May09