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Australian Painted Lady (Vanessa kershawi)

Australian Painted Lady

Appearance: Unmistakable. Upperside orange with dark patches, fore wing tips black with white patches. Four black subterminal spots on the hind wing, three of which have a blue centre. Underside marbled.
Wingspan: 4.2–4.8 cm.
Season: Several generations all around the year.
Range: All across Australia except for the far north and the arid regions of NT and WA.
Habitat: Wide variety of habitats. Migrants can be found almost anywhere.
Photo: Royal NP, NSW, 17/04/2010.

Description

The Australian Painted Lady is a very common and widespread species that can be found all across Australia (including TAS) with the exception of the central and northern areas of WA, northern and western NT, and far northern QLD. Like its famous cousin, the Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), the Australian Painted Lady is a known migrant. The butterflies can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including gardens and parks. They can often be seen resting on the ground or feeding from flowers. During warm and sunny weather, they are very alert and will usually fly up when being approached.

The Australian Painted Lady can easily be distinguished from the very similar Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) through the four black subterminal spots on the upperside of the hind wing, three of which usually have a light blue centre. The Painted Lady, in contrast, has the subterminal spots uniformly black without a blue centre. In addition, the Australian Painted Lady has the underside brown colour somewhat darker compared to the Painted Lady. However, as the Painted Lady is a very rare migrant to south-western WA only, there is no risk of confusion at all across most of Australia.

Additional Photos

Australian Painted Lady
Upperside. Note the blue centre of the black subterminal spots on the hind wing. (Sydney, NSW, 10/04/2010)
Australian Painted Lady
The underside is marbled and somewhat darker than that of the Painted Lady. (Sydney, NSW, 12/12/2009)
Australian Painted Lady
The butterflies regularly feed from flowers. (Sydney, NSW, 12/12/2009)
Australian Painted Lady
Another view of the marbled underside. (Glenbrook, NSW, 02/04/2010)
Australian Painted Lady
The butterflies often rest on the ground to bask in the sun. (Lesmurdie, WA, 01/09/2012)
Australian Painted Lady
The underside pattern is highly variable. (Busselton, WA, 26/12/2010)