A Pretty Lady

A painted lady butterfly resting on the sun-warmed boulders of Trencrom hill.

Identified by pale orange wings adorned with black and white spots with an underside of mottled brown spots, this little beauty can be found all across the British Isles.

(click to enlarge to full size)


Few things say summer more eloquently than the fluttering of butterfly wings in the garden and countryside. Sadly I haven’t seen many this year other than up on the hill and only large white ones in the garden. The painted lady (Cynthia cardui) likes heathland and open meadows so I expect she is loving the heather now. A migrant (too cold here to stay over winter) the painted ladies are strong flyers capable of long distances and when summer comes to an end they will journey as far as tropical Africa.


32 Comments Add yours

  1. AnnetteM says:

    I love your butterfly. We don’t get many here, but they should start appearing soon. I once got very excited because I saw a Comma butterfly in the garden, but it has not been back. I even cultivate a patch of nettles in case they should decide to lay some eggs. It is usually the Red Admirals that we see. I can’t imagine a little butterfly flying so far as Africa.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have nettles 😉 but haven’t seen a Comma yet. Red Admirals and Large Whites seem the most prolific. I must head to the dunes to see if I can spot a Common Blue.

  2. macmsue says:

    We get Painted Ladies in Australia too but I think the patterning is slightly different. The colours are the same.

  3. joannesisco says:

    I really don’t know one butterfly from another, except they are all a delight to see. You are so right about butterflies being a symbol of the lazy days of summer. Seeing one float by is guaranteed to make me smile.
    I was just commenting to someone the other day that it seems we have a lot more butterflies than usual this summer. Perhaps the exceptionally dry weather we’re having?

    1. Heyjude says:

      You might be having a dry summer, ours seems inordinately wet!

      1. joannesisco says:

        So sorry for you. That’s not much of a summer feeling.

        1. Heyjude says:

          A typical British summer these days. Can’t complain. When the sun shines it really is beautiful.

        2. joannesisco says:

          … because you have all that lush vegetation to enjoy.

  4. Sue says:

    I’ve seen no butterflies other than Cabbage Whites this year….

    1. Heyjude says:

      There haven’t been many around here until recently, and the large whites are definitely in the majority.

  5. Colline says:

    A lovely capture of a beautiful butterfly.

  6. Arkenaten says:

    They hang out at our spot in the summer. Love the too. Nice shot.

    1. Heyjude says:

      They do seem to get around 🙂

      1. Arkenaten says:

        During late autumn/early winter, the ones that visit tend to land on the front lawn in the afternoon and ”sunbathe” , wings open to the west.
        I have a number of shots of the butterfly in this position.
        Haven’t seen one since the 9th July. (last photograph at any rate)

  7. So beautiful. We also get them here. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      They do seem to be fairly widespread 🙂

  8. I’m always amazed by the distances and apparently fragile creature like the butterfly can travel. You were lucky this one crossed your path.

    1. Heyjude says:

      These are fairly common, although I see less and less butterflies each year.

  9. Lucid Gypsy says:

    To be honest I haven’t seen many butterflies this year 😦

  10. I love the colours in this composition. Reading your post made me realise that I have seen very few butterflies this summer – and none in my garden that I can think of. I wonder where they all are?

    1. Heyjude says:

      Mmm.. not a good sign.

      1. No, I agree. I’ve seen a few in the park but nothing at home.

  11. restlessjo says:

    Lovely shot, Jude! 🙂 We’ve had lots here this year. Mostly whites.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Whole lot of whites here too. And Red Admirals, but I haven’t managed a decent shot of one of those yet.

  12. A pretty lady indeed 😀 I finally found red admirals today!!! I’m sure they’re late. It’s been a good year for meadowland species. I’ve sighted loads of meadow browns, gatekeepers, ringlets and skippers! It’s going to be interesting to see what the Big Butterfly Count results have to say.

  13. Tricky devils to photograph cuz they rarely sit still. You were lucky to catch this one resting!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Apparently evening is a good time, when then settle more.

      1. I’ve heard early morning is a good time because butterflies generally don’t start flying till after they’ve warmed up.

        1. Heyjude says:

          I shall keep my eyes out this year, saw very few butterflies last year, and I’m not really a morning person, but should possibly become one!

  14. Entomologists here know it as Vanessa cardui. I looked online and found Cynthia is a subgenus of Vanessa:


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