Vanessa cardui, Crete - photo © Ch. Almpantakis

Vanessa cardui, Crete - photo © Ch. Almpantakis

Vanessa cardui


Vanessa cardui is a butterfly of the family Nymphalidae on the island of Crete, Greece.

Scientific name

Vanessa cardui (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common name

Painted Lady


Family: Nymphalidae > Subfamily: Nymphalinae > Tribus: Nymphalini > Genus: Vanessa


Male to female: 55-60 mm


Both sexes have a similar appearance. The upper side of their wings is light –orange-brown with several white and black marks. The forewings have a white bar with black color near the apex and the hindwings have a row of five small black dots. The underside of their wings has brown, black, and gray patterns with small submarginal eyespots. The external margin of the hindwing is partially slightly concaved.


They are powerful flyers and habitually fly from flower to flower, stopping for just a few seconds at each to take nectar. On overcast days, the butterflies often spend long periods basking in small depressions on the ground.


Vanessa cardui in Crete can be found in fallow land, fields, gardens, ruderal areas, and waysides. It is extremely adaptable and thus can survive in any of these environments. Painted Ladies can be found at all elevations during migration but are usually found at elevations as low as sea level year-round, even during the non-migratory time.

Food plant

The larva feeds on Asteraceae (Carduus, Cirsium, Onopordum), Urticaceae, and Malvaceae plants.

Flight Period

The butterfly flies in 2 generations per year.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Vanessa cardui is another butterfly performing equally impressive migrations. It reaches the coastal regions of the island during migration from Africa and the Middle East, although there can be temporary breeding populations in other regions.

The butterfly has a unique appearance in Crete and can’t be confused with any other butterflies on the island.


Least Concern (LC)

(*European Red List of Butterflies, 2010)

Vanessa Cardui Distribution Map

*based on

Vanessa cardui location map based on greek butterflies distributions map by L.N. Pamperis (revised 2021)