The Return of the Butterflies

Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) on lantana

The butterflies are returning.


Although temperatures remain high, it is nearly autumn even here, and the butterflies are beginning to flutter into the garden, coming south to enjoy the sunlight and warmth of a desert winter.  As ever, they adore the lantana.

Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) on lantana

At this stage, the most easily noticed are the Painted Ladies, Vanessa cardui, but I have been seeing an assortment of others, including one or two Queens, Danaus gilippus.

Queen butterfly (Danaus gilippus) upper left, Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) lower right
Queen butterfly (Danaus gilippus) upper left, Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) lower right

The sunlight is still so strong here that it was difficult to get photos of butterflies with their wings open.   They don't really need to sun themselves very much!  I'm sure they are plenty warm without that.


In any case, it's lovely to see the garden coming alive again with graceful wings.

Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) on lantana

Weather Diary: Sunny; High: 101 F (38 C)/Low: 82 F (28 C); Humidity: 24%-60%

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Comments: 6
  • #1

    Kris P (Monday, 04 September 2017 13:43)

    They look especially beautiful with the orange Lantana as a backdrop.

  • #2

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Monday, 04 September 2017 23:24)

    It's a wonderful combination, isn't it?! And certainly gives a whole new look to butterfly 'camouflage'... ;-) Thanks, Kris!

  • #3

    Brian Skeys (Wednesday, 06 September 2017 02:14)

    The Queen Butterfly is a beautiful dark red, it is one I haven't seen a picture of before.

  • #4

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Wednesday, 06 September 2017 10:04)

    Brian - It's quite a beautiful butterfly and one I hadn't seen till I moved here, no doubt because they are chiefly tropical. I'm always mistaking them for Viceroys, which mimic Monarchs. The Queens are actually much more closely related to the true Monarch and also favor milkweed for caterpillars and adults. I wish I could have gotten a shot with the wings outspread - maybe later!

  • #5

    Cathy (Wednesday, 06 September 2017 15:26)

    Lovely shots Amy. I am also always delighted to see the butterflies arriving inncycles throughout the year. The latest here are now the Peacocks, which love our sedum flowers. I haven't seen a Painted Lady yet this year, but there are Red Admirals around here too. Isn't it amazing that we have some of the same butterflies so many miles away from you! Do they spend the winter in your region, or fly further south?
    I will now try and hit the send button very quickly, as I have noticed that my comments seem to be sent in duplicate recently! ...Here goes... ;-)

  • #6

    Amy@smallsunnygarden (Friday, 08 September 2017 09:37)

    Cathy - Yes, it is fun to watch the different types coming in. These painted ladies are usually the first for us, with most of the Queens and Monarchs coming a little later. The Monarchs seem to come and go, so I think they mostly winter further south or perhaps move on to the coast. But we do have some butterflies through the winter months. A few of the small blues even stay through the summer - brave little souls! ;-) It is fascinating that we share some of the same butterflies! We have no Red Admirals here though - the pictures always look lovely! :-)