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Wisconsin Native Caterpillars

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) caterpillar

Painted Lady Caterpillar

Genus-Species: Vanessa cardui

Description: Variable in color: yellow-green with black mottling to charcoal black with cream mottling. Covered with several rows of light colored, branched spines.

Chrysalis: Beige with a hint of lavender. There are many yellowish pointed bumps on the body. Attached upside down on a substrate.

Host Plants: More than 100 host plants have been noted; favorites include Prairie thistle (Cirsium discolor) and Swamp thistle (Cirsium muticum). Others include Asters (Aster species), Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), Joe pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum), Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), Sunflowers (Helianthus species), Liatris (Liatris species), Black eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta and R. Subtomentosa), Cup plant and Compass plant (Silphium species), Goldenrods (Solidago species), Milk vetch (Astragalus species), Prairie clover (Dalea species or Petalostemon species), and Wild lupine (Lupinus perennis)

Habitat: Found in a variety of open habitats including old fields, meadows, disturbed areas and roadsides.

Comments: This species is the least common of the Vanessa sp. (which include the American Lady and Red Admiral) in Wisconsin.

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