Update on the Painted Lady Butterflies, 03-02-19

Yesterday, just before the naturalist class started, I got a text message from my sister Melissa letting me know that the Painted Lady butterflies were emerging. She saw one of the chrysalises waggling and was worried that it might have been in a draft or something… then she saw the antenna pop out of it followed by the butterfly’s head. You can see the butterfly in the first video.

I had actually left the butterfly cage at home, rather than bringing it to class with me, because I thought everyone was still pretty much asleep in there. So, wouldn’t you know it, they chose that day to emerge! I let the class know that “we have babies!” and they were all excited to be able to see them, so when I got home, I took some photos and video snippets, which you can see HERE.

You can distinguish these Painted Ladies from their sister species, West Coast Ladies, by the dots on the top of the hind wings. In Painted Ladies, the dots are dark brown; in West Coast Ladies, they’re pale blue. Both species are native to California and use thistles as one of their host plants.

By the time I got home most of the butterflies were out and resting in the butterfly cage. One of the other chrysalises was waggling a lot, but it didn’t open while I was watching it. (You can see it wiggling next to an empty chrysalis in the second video.)


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Mary K. Hanson is a breast cancer survivor who, at age 61, took coursework to become a Certified California Naturalist. The author of “The Chubby Woman’s Walkabout”™ blog, Ms. Hanson has also written nature-based feature articles published in regional newspapers, authored over ten books, including her "Cool Stuff Along the American" series of guide books, and has had her photographs featured in books, articles, calendars, on the American River Parkway Foundation’s Instagram stream, and even the White House blog. This year Ms. Hanson is helping to launch and teach a new Certified California Naturalist course through Tuleyome, in partnership with the University of California and the Woodland Library, so members of the public can themselves become certified as naturalists in the state. All of the photos seen on her website were taken by Ms. Hanson herself (unless noted otherwise) with moderate- to low-end photographic equipment more easily affordable to the everyday nature enthusiast. She also occasionally leads photo-walks through the American River Bend Park for the public and is sometimes available for public speaking.