Animal Species:Australian Painted Lady

The Australian Painted Lady is common in Sydney's urban backyards.

Australian Painted Lady on flower

David Gray © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Australian Painted Lady

Alternative Name/s

Blue Spotted Painted Lady

Identification

The Australian Painted Lady Butterfly has pale brown underwings and a delicate pattern of orange and brown on the upper wings, with tiny blue eyespots on the hind wings. The larvae are brown and spiky with a pale yellow stripe along each side.

Size range

6 cm

Habitat

The Australian Painted Lady lives in urban areas.

Seasonality

'Painted ladies', as a group, have a reputation for their mass migrations. Australian Painted Ladies in New South Wales migrate in great numbers in spring, moving on a front that extends for about 580 km inland from the coast. This migration can continue for up to eight weeks, with the main movement being in a south to south-westerly direction. Larger numbers in some years may be related to higher than average winter rainfall in the months preceding a migration, particularly in inland regions. A smaller return flight has been reported between February and April, with adults flying northwards. During the migration, adults maintain a rapid, direct flight about 2 m above the ground. In 1889, it was reported to migrate in such great numbers that they blackened the sky. Trains were unable to get traction because so many butterflies were resting on the tracks! Such mass migrations have not been reported for some time.

Feeding and Diet

The caterpillars of the Australian Painted Lady feed on native everlastings and other daisies, as well as the introduced Capeweed (Arctotheca calendula), Scotch Thistle (Onopordum acanthium) and Lavender (Lavendula officinalis).

Other behaviours and adaptations

In 1889, the Australian Painted Lady was reported to migrate in such great numbers that they blackened the sky. Trains were unable to get traction because so many butterflies were resting on the tracks! Such mass migrations have not been reported for some time.

Classification

Species:
kershawi
Genus:
Vanessa
Subfamily:
Nymphalinae
Family:
Nymphalidae
Superfamily:
Papilionoidea
Order:
Lepidoptera
Class:
Insecta
Subphylum:
Uniramia
Phylum:
Arthopoda
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?


Last Updated:

Tags butterflies, butterfly, insects, invertebrates, identification, wildlife of sydney,

Got a question/comment about this animal species?

Search & Discover Search & Discover
Specialists in Australian natural history and culture enquiries.