American Lady or Painted Lady?

bob_71(z7 MD)April 24, 2011

A couple of years ago when I first started trying to identify the butterflies that I had photographed, I met the deepest frustrations in my life of being outdoors. It seemed that every one I shot had one or more nearly identical twins. The technical names of the anatomical parts used in field guides was unintelligible to me...still is. I vowed that, if I ever learned to identify the markings that differentiated one similar species from another, I would do my dead-level best to capture these differences photographically so that some other poor souls out there might have a little easier time than I did.

What I have learned is that butterflies have a forewing and a hindwing on each side of their body and, more often than not, the markings and/or coloration is totally different on the two sides.

With these two butterflies, the number and size of the eyespots visible on the underside of the hindwing is different. The American Lady usually has two eyespots while the Painted Lady usually has four.

In addition, The American Lady has a white spot visible in the orange cell of the upper forewing. This white spot is absent on the Painted Lady.

AMERICAN LADY

AMERICAN LADY

AMERICAN LADY

PAINTED LADY

PAINTED LADY

I hope this will give help to someone out there!

Bob

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minrose(4Mn)

Wow, I did not know that, good to know, thanks, awesome photos by the way.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 7:59AM
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butterflyman(5)

Nice pictures - I'd like to see you do that with other butterflies that look similar. Skippers can be very hard to identify.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 8:49AM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Absolutely splendid pictures Bob!! A terrific idea too! My sister just asked me yesterday about differentiating between these two butterflies. I told her about the eyespots and the white dots.~~Angie

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 9:04AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Beautiful pictures, Bob, and instructional!

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 10:21AM
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larry_gene

Bob has certainly shown here why he was well-suited to author the Camera Settings...topic in our FAQ.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 11:07PM
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angie83(9)

Great pics .
Angie

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 1:36AM
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sweet_melissa(7)

Thank you for posting this! Very helpful!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 8:24PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

You've added two more beautiful photos to your collection. Thanks for sharing these pics; I struggled with these for a long time. Participating in butterfly counts is a good way to get familiar with the similar BFs.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 9:20PM
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bob_71(z7 MD)

Your kind words are very important to me!

Bob

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 9:00AM
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surya55_gw

Thanks Bob- what a great help!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 9:03PM
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Leafhead

Very informative. I've struggled c IDing these two butterflies since my introduction to them.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 3:17AM
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Tony G(5a)

VERY helpful Bob! I always tried to tell by the thickness of their forewing black markings...the PL's are thicker.

I think the white dot will be especially helpful in IDing going forward. Thank you for sharing, Tony

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 10:36PM
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Monarch-Ma-so.cal(10 Southern CA.)

Bob, those are gorgeous photographs!! Many thanks for the information!! My butterfly bush was visited several days ago by what I thought were Painted Ladies, but now I'll have to check my pics to yours! I'll post some photos (one at a time-haven't figured out to post multiple pics in one post) I took the other day, but these pics pale next to yours Bob. Can anyone tell if this is painted Lady or American Lady? Maybe my pics don't show enough detail? I thought it was a large moth at first as seen in this photo, then was amazed to see the colors!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 12:12AM
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Monarch-Ma-so.cal(10 Southern CA.)

Four dots on hindwing, must be a Painted Lady?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 12:22AM
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Monarch-Ma-so.cal(10 Southern CA.)

Not good detail, but I loved her smile! I took these pics at the same time, but of several different ones who flew in together and were a group. One male wanted to fly with a Monarch, and they did briefly. It was fascinating to see them flying together for several seconds. Looked like a small guy trying to date a tall or big lady! This one looks different then the other as far as the dots on the wing. I don't know which it is, AL or PL?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 12:32AM
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Monarch-Ma-so.cal(10 Southern CA.)

another one

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 12:35AM
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Monarch-Ma-so.cal(10 Southern CA.)

with a bee

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 12:43AM
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Monarch-Ma-so.cal(10 Southern CA.)

This girl wanted badly to get out, I didn't know, and I think that's what attracted the PL's in the first place that day. That's the day I saw a PL trying to fly with a Monarch two times, I think they were influenced by the Monarch 'in distress' in the enclosure. The top of the enclosure is the same aluminum screening as the sides and is see-through like the sides.
I let her out after taking photos.

I put this enclosure together quickly after my first pupae was killed by a wasp in mid-pupation. I DON'T recommend putting the metal stakes on the inside of the screening as I did. I'll put the stakes on the outside of the mesh next year. The caterpillars like to hang from the metal stakes for some reason, and I had to keep shade over the rails all during the hot summer or they would have fried from the heat of the hot metal.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 1:02AM
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Monarch-Ma-so.cal(10 Southern CA.)

another picture

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 1:08AM
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Monarch-Ma-so.cal(10 Southern CA.)

Last picture

This post was edited by Monarch-Ma-so.cal on Thu, Nov 7, 13 at 1:37

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 1:22AM
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