On June 17th I noticed tented painted lady caterpillars on my licorice plant (helichrysum petrolatum).The licorice plant is a larval plant for the painted lady butterfly.The painted lady is one of the most widespread butterflies in the world.It can be found in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Butterflies always have particular larval plants that they feed on such as milkweed for the monarch butterfly. They instinctively lay their eggs on plants that the caterpillars will eat.The painted lady is not as particular as most and it has several host plants including thistle, mallow, hollyhock, pearly everlasting, borage and licorice plant. I purchased some licorice plants with this in mind and planted them in a container garden with some dill.Painted ladies are also adaptable in terms of their habitat, which may include urban, suburban, swamp, bog, marsh, tundra, desert ,dune, rainforest, and apparently Robin’s Pine Hills courtyard.
I have no photos of the eggs which I may have missed because of their small size(size of a pin head).The incubation period is 3 to 5 days.The larva then builds a silky, webbed tent nest as it feeds on the plant.
I left a day later for a week on Martha’s Vineyard and when I returned on June 26th my licorice plant showed evidence of many visitors in all stages, many of whom had come and gone.I was also delighted to see some adult painted lady butterflies enjoying the nectar plants in my garden.
The caterpillars change appearance as they mature.
The caterpillar spins a silk pad to attach to and then hangs and forms a chrysalis.
The adult painted lady butterfly emerges about 7 to 15 days after forming a chrysalis.They live for about 2 weeks. The front side and the underside of their wings look very different.
I’ve had many painted ladies visit this summer. As you can see, they have nectared on many different plants in my garden but their favorite has been the coneflowers.
Enjoying a warm spot on my courtyard path
This beautiful black swallowtail butterfly is now chomping on my dill plant and will likely be the star of my next blog!
If you are interested in gardening for the butterflies, check out my previous posts under the Archives: Monarch butterfly 10/12/12, Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly 1/3/13, and Courtyard Visitors-EBS 9/17/14.