Wisconsin Native Caterpillars

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) caterpillar

American Lady Caterpillar

Genus-Species: Vanessa virginiensis

Description: Variable in color: Greenish yellow with narrow black rings; black with creamy rings. Dark, branched spines are red at the base. There is a pair of white spots on each segment.

Chrysalis: Color varies: gray or various degrees of gold and brown. A wide dark line extends from head to tail. There are rows of triangular projections tipped with black dots as well as black dots on other parts of the chrysalis.

Host Plants: Plants in the sunflower family: Sweet everlasting (Gnaphalium obtusifolium), Pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea), Plantain-leaved pussy toes (Antennaria plantaginifolia), and Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata).

Habitat: Found in a variety of open habitats including old fields, meadows, and roadsides where their major host plants, Pussytoes and Pearly Everlasting, are found.

Comments: The American Lady, Painted Lady, and the Red Admiral are all very familiar butterflies throughout the United States, but despite their abundance and wide distribution there is still confusion about their migration and ability to overwinter in the northern states such as Wisconsin.

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