American Lady Butterfly & Native Foodplants

American Lady Butterfly ~ Vanessa virginiensis
This colorful orange butterfly is fairly common in our area. You will usually spot this butterfly nectaring from mid May to late July in central Minnesota.

It's easy to distinguish this butterfly from its close looking relative the Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui). The American Lady has two large eye spots on the exterior hind wings whereas the Painted Lady has four smaller ones. (Butterflies through Binoculars)

This butterfly like most others will seek out tubular flowers for nectaring. In our yard, it especially likes Phlox and Monarda species.

Habitat & Lifecycle: Open sunny areas, fields, prairies, easements and roadsides. This butterfly does not overwinter in our area, it

migrates north early in the spring arriving here in May. (Butterflies through Binoculars)  

Caterpillars emerge in mid June. They can vary in coloration but will have a row of white spots down their sides. They also have sharp spines along their backs (except for their heads) and abdomen. 

"The larvae will tie up several leaves and feed within this shelter. A single larvae will make a number of shelters, especially on plants with small leaves." (Caterpillars of Eastern North America)

The major native foodplants are AnaphalisAntennaria and Gnaphalium (Pseudognaphalium) species. 

Anaphalis margaritacea ~ Pearly Everlasting
This native perennial is common on sandy soils in open sunny locations along the edges of woodlands.

The leaves are gray green in color and fuzzy beneath. The flowers are a a cluster of white "petal-like bracts, around a button-like yellowish disk". (Wildflowers of Wisconsin)

This plant is used for dried flower arrangements because the bracts hold their color and shape.

Antennaria neglecta ~ Field Pussytoes
A prairie native, field pussytoes spreads by stolons forming a dense mat in rich soils without competition. If there's competition from prairie grasses and forbs, it will spread amongst these plants. The leaves are also a gray green in color with white hairs. The white flowers appear early in the spring in late April to early May.

Field Pussytoes also likes well drained soil, it does well in sandy soils and can therefore sometimes be found in disturbed sites. It also can spread into lawns.

There are several other midwest Antennaria species including A. howellii, A. plantaginifolia, and A. parlinii.