Painted Ladies Arrive

No, we are not hosting an Easter Parade at our Littleton, Colorado, farm.  Rather, I am referring to the arrival of painted lady butterflies over the past two days, a bit earlier than usual (again reflecting our mild winter and spring weather).

Found across more of the planet than any other butterfly, painted ladies inhabit all of the Continents except Antarctica and are reported to be the only butterflies found on Iceland.  Breeding at Temperate and Subarctic latitudes, the adults arrive in spring and feed on new blossoms, often perching atop shrubs to attract a mate.  The impregnated female deposits single eggs on the leaves of various host plants (primarily thistle, mallow and legumes); once the caterpillars hatch, they feed on those leaves and then pupate.  Adults emerge and may live for up to a month.

In autumn, most painted ladies in North America head for northern Mexico through some may stop in the Desert Southwest; if mild winter weather persists, these hardy butterflies may even overwinter in more northern locations.  Here in Colorado, they are typically present from May to early October; our current guests arrived early but are more than welcome to stay.