Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) life history
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) Life History

Third instar

Fourth instar

Fifth instar, typical coloration

Fifth instar, brightly colored

Fresh adult Painted Lady, dorsal view

Fresh adult Painted Lady, ventral view

Painted Ladies commonly use Texas Thistle (Cirsium texanum) in south Texas. They build silk nests in the inner leaves, which affords them good protection from many predators. The caterpillars featured here were gathered in 2012 or 2014. Most caterpillars I've seen are basically gray, but once in a while one is brightly colored (see the second picture of a final instar). Similarly, the chrysalis may be golden, as pictured here, or gray.

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