This painted lady is perched on cudweed, it's caterpillar host plant. Photo by Ken Ungrodt
Painted Ladies Migration
Another painted lady atop a phacelia, a favorite wildflower nectar plant for a host of
pollinator species. Photo by Suzanne Guldimann
They aren’t as famous for their annual migration as the Monarch butterfly, but millions of painted lady butterflies are winging their way along the coast from Mexico and Southern California, on their way to the Pacific Northwest. The last time this many “ladies” were seen was in 2005, another year with abundant rain. There are several species of painted lady, but the mass migration is the American Painted Lady, Vanessa virginiensis. Thousands of painted ladies have been spotted in Topanga this week. This butterfly paused to sample some nectar in a local garden. The caterpillar plant hosts for this species include California Pearly Everlasting (Gnaphalium) andPearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea). Adults are attracted to many garden flowers, especially members of the sunflower and daisy families. Look for more painted ladies throughout this issue of the Messenger Mountain News.
Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org