Butterflies of Keele
Painted Lady Cynthia cardui
This is a purely migratory species (from North Africa); there are few, if any, records of adults over-wintering in this country but recent research has found that there is evidence a return migration. However, radar studies have revealed that this takes place at very high altitudes, hence the lack of evidence on the ground.
The larvae feed on thistles especially Spear Thistle Cirsium vulgare and Marsh Thistle C. palustre. Adults visit thistles, Buddleia etc. Numbers vary from year to year.
1996 was a memorable year for this species with the country hosting the largest immigration for over 40 years.
A memorable count on 12/8/96 by the old sewage works site revealed approximately 200 individuals along with some 1000 Silver-Y moths. There were non the next year.