Wisconsin Native Caterpillars
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
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.
Find instructions on how to design a butterfly-friendly habitat including a catalog of favorite flowers
guaranteed to attract butterflies.
Take this quick quiz and see how much you know about caterpillars. This quiz is intended for fun, in
a random-facts-can-be-cool kind of way.
How does this magic happen? Learn about metamorphosis - the process of transformation from an
immature form to an adult bitterfly.