Painted Lady Butterfly

This was originally published in ‘The Nerve’ the Southampton Biological Society Paper:


Photo by Ella Barnett

Of the 200,000 known butterfly species the painted lady butterfly (Vanessa Cardui) is the most globally distributed. The distribution of most forms of butterflies is limited by climate. The majority of species, if their body temperature drops to below 30oC will lose the ability to fly and with either die or enter a state of torpor.

The colourful wings have both defensive and procreative purposes. They are intended to scare off birds. As well as this males have iridescent wing scales which when he flutters his wings creates a UV strobe which in combination with pheromones attracts potential mates. Different species have different pheromone scents which aid in identification. The Common Blue Butterfly smells distinctly of chocolate.

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