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Old 10-03-2002, 09:10 AM
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Boldly Patterned Butterflies: West Coast Lady


West Coast Lady
Vanessa annabella

Description 1 3/4-2" (44-51 mm). FW tip extended, clipped. Orange to salmon-orange above with black patterning; small white spots near FW tip and blue to purplish spots along outer HW. Beneath, complex blurred marbling of olive, tan, and white webbing on HW, with small, indistinct, unrimmed blue spots outwardly; FW pink with blue, black, and buff spotting below. Orange to pale yellow bar outside FW cell both above and below, runs from costa across black area near tip.

Similar Species American Painted Lady has 2 big blue eyespots below. Painted Lady has white FW bar beyond cell in black area; HW pattern less blurred beneath.

Life Cycle Egg greenish, barrel-shaped; laid singly. Caterpillar, to 1-1/4" (25-32 mm), variable, from light brown to black, with yellow or orange blotches, lines, and spines. Chrysalis olive-straw, rounded, bluntly beaked, with whitish tubercles. Host plants are mallows (Malvaceae), including cheeseweed (Malva parviflora), sidalceas (Sidalcea), hollyhocks (Althaea), and globemallows (Sphaeralcea); also occasionally nettles (Urtica).

Flight Year-round in warmer parts of California; elsewhere spottily from early spring-late fall; autumn in eastern part of range.

Habitat Vacant lots, flowerbeds, canals, fields, mountain canyons, and slopes.

Range Pacific Slope from British Columbia to Baja California, east as a transient to western edge of Great Plains.

Discussion The West Coast Lady's numbers vary dramatically from year to year, but it does not undergo the massive emigrations of the Painted Lady. Its cold tolerance may be in between that of the other ladies: it can withstand moderate winters but not frigid conditions. The West Coast Lady probably travels eastward from the coast in late summer, appearing in the Rockies in the fall. Formerly V. carye.





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host plants, life cycle, white spots



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