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American and Painted Ladies At A Glance - Vanessa

American and Painted Ladies At A Glance - Vanessa
Norris City, White County, Illinois, USA
I see people having difficulty telling an American Lady and a Painted Lady butterfly apart, so I have compiled this handy chart to refer to and make it easier with which to spot the chief differences between the two at a glance.

On the left side of the image, an American Lady, open-winged and closed-wing view. On the right, a Painted Lady. The chief difference, the one that is easiest to identify for most, is the tiny white spot on the American Lady. It is located in the postmedian area of the forewing. In the corresponding area of the Painted Lady, no such spot will be found.
Another good identifying mark will be the eyespots in the postmedian area of the hindwings of both butterflies. On the upperside, they are quite similar in size for both. But on the underside, two large eyespots can be clearly seen on the American Lady, whereas four are discernible on the Painted Lady and they are much smaller.
There are other small identifiable features unique to both species, but at a glance, these marks I've described should be of great help for most people. For further identifiable features, see here.

American Lady, top left - taken on June 12th, 2007.
American Lady, bottom left - taken on June 21st, 2007.
Painted Lady, top right - taken on October 29th, 2007.
Painted Lady, bottom right - taken on October 9th, 2007.

Great graphic! Helped with ID
Great graphic! Helped with ID!

great, more on these
Great composite. It also shows very well, the falcate, squared-off wingtip of the American Lady versus the rounded wingtip of the Painted Lady. This character is easy to see, even in worn individuals.

That white spot in the orange cell of the forewing is sometimes absent in American Ladies. I just searched through our images here, as well as my own files, and found four specimens where the spot is faint or absent. A couple of these are beautiful, fresh specimens, so it is not a matter of wear. (Perhaps the white spot itself results from a little wear somehow?) These are now thumbnails in the guide page.

So it's Ken! I guess I called you Dan on Flickr...
Like everyone else, I love the above comparison and have actually used it myself, as we have both butterflies where I live!


American and Painted Ladies...
Absolutely spectacular! Now, if we could just talk you into this treatment for those TOUGH to identify sulphurs and skippers! In all seriousness, a book with this approach to ID'ing butterflies could be a super success in my opinion!


Thanks, Bob!

Thanks so much for this wonderful post.
I echo the comments above -- this is an incredibly helpful post!

-- Dan

You're Most Welcome!
Thank you for saying so!

Just wanted to say thanks...
...for putting the time & effort into this post. As many times as I have seen these two ladies, I can never seem to remember the key field marks for telling them apart. Just this morning I came inside from seeing what I thought was a Painted Lady and logged on to BugGuide to double-check -- and "voila!", here was this fantastic image allowing me to put all doubt aside. Thanks.

You're Quite Welcome!
You're quite welcome, Harsi! Glad it was helpful.

Your photos...
Just thought I'd mention that I checked out your profile page and was looking forward to visiting the website you list and getting to see all your butterfly shots in one place. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that the site is still at that address. A little internet sleuthing allowed me to find your flickr account and happily view many of your gorgeous photos, but you might want to update your page so that others can find your images more easily.

I just tried the link on my profile page and it's still working for me. I will add that sometimes, the pictures take a little while to load fully, so you might factor that into it. But, Butterflies of Southern Illinois is still up and running. Thanks for looking!

It's a browser thing...
I had to ask my computer programmer husband for help last night to figure out what I was doing wrong. Turns out that the problem was my preferred browser of choice, Firefox. All I could see was an all black page on my screen. When I launched your website in Internet Explorer, I was able to view the graphics and text. A lot of people DO use Firefox as their exclusive browser, so I am likely not the only person who has had this problem. (Glad I figured out how to view your pics, though!)

Same black page with Safari browser used with Macintosh

Browser Issue
I didn't know that Firefox encountered those problems - I wonder what I can do about fixing that issue? If anything?

BTW, I sent you an e-mail earlier...
Please let me know here if for some reason you did not receive that message. I will try to obtain some good advice tonight...

I hadn't received that message until just now when I read where you asked if I had gotten it. I checked, and it had gotten held up in my spam filter. I sent it on through and replied to it just now, so you should be getting my response shortly. Thanks for that!

Check your spam filter again...
...I think my follow-up messages may be stuck there as well.

No, it came through all right. I just work mostly nights. I got it and just responded. Thanks again!

Nice work, Kenny
Crystal-clear, definitive, and exactly the right amount of detail.

Bigger Text
Thanks, Ron! Recently, I had to get some reading glasses for anything up to about 18 inches away. Consequently, things I do like this come up with easier-to-read text. I guess my fading vision is everyone's benefit. Even mine, because I can read this picture without my glasses! Ha ha!

Your bane is our blessing. LOL!
I've just had cataracts removed on both eyes and can now drive without glasses, but will appreciate reading glasses when vision stabilizes. BTW, congrats on the new book.

I had an amazing encounter-at least to me...I'm sure you would know
what it was. I'm sorry, it,s not a butterfly or catapiller or moth.

But it was about 2 1/2" to 3" long, 3 segments, round body parts,
round dish like eyes. It stood about 1 inch tall. I think it had
6 legs. Other than the eyes it was all white. EYES WERE BLACK, MAYBE

It was crossing the sidewalk, and we were walking up the sidewalk.
We saw it and it saw us. All three of us stood stalk still. It
looked at us and I said to my friend "I'm not going to hurt it, are
you?" She said, "Not me!!" I said "What if it jumps on us"?
We decided to walk on the other side of cars, and join the sidewalk
later. We looked back at it and there it was looking at us. We
stood a while looking at each other, then this bug preceeded on it's path across the sidewalk.

Everyone tells me it was a potato bug. But when I look potato bugs
on the Net, No can find. Not one that looked like that!


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