A Warm Welcome To The Painted Ladies


This year I have planted a lot of verbena bonariensis. I love this plant with its tall stalks supporting clusters of tiny purple flowers. Verbena grows quickly in almost any location and any soil, which is perfect for charlatan gardeners like me whose skills fall far short of their enthusiasm. Tiny plants which I placed in April are now about 6ft tall. The delicate appearance of the thin stems belies their strength; I am mesmerised by their waving and bending with the strongest of winds, bouncing back upright and unperturbed.

My main reason for including verbena is its attractiveness to pollinators at a time when we have to do our bit to help out wildlife, even in the humblest and smallest of gardens like my own. I’d noticed that the verbena didn’t seem to be as popular with the bees as some of the other plants such as the cat mint and lavender; butterfly visitors were also few and far between….until this week.


Looking out of the kitchen window on Tuesday morning I was delighted to see three butterflies flitting gracefully from one purple floret to another, lingering long enough to feast. I quietly stepped out to take a closer look and was able to identify the visitors as painted ladies. They certainly did look like works of art, scallop-edged scarlet wings embellished with bold black and white markings. I marvelled at the trio for 10 minutes, contemplating the magical metamorphosis of unremarkable caterpillars into such beautiful creatures as these.


Since Tuesday there have been more and more painted ladies gracing my garden, favouring the various verbena. At one point I counted eight on the same plant. I had wondered about their sudden arrival on the scene as if from nowhere; had they hatched somewhere nearby? It was wonderful to sit and watch their charming, oblivious exhibition.




Deciding to find out more about my lovely colourful visitors, I came across some online news items about a mass migration of painted ladies to the UK this summer. So that explains it! 🙂. Painted Ladies are not rare or endangered, and they migrate here from Europe every summer, but this year promises to see huge numbers crossing the English Channel. I was utterly amazed to read about the epic journey which starts in North Africa and sees these tiny fragile-looking creatures achieve such an incredible feat. I don’t know how long they will stay, but I look forward to these ladies enjoying my verbena for as long as it lasts.


11 thoughts on “A Warm Welcome To The Painted Ladies

  1. tanjabrittonwriter August 2, 2019 / 11:57 pm

    Lucky you, and lucky butterflies for being welcome in your garden. We had a similar explosion of Painted Ladies a few summers back, and it was like a dream to observe them descend upon our region.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nanacathy2 August 3, 2019 / 9:39 am

    They’ve not arrived here yet but I shall look out for them. Lots of cabbage whites around at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandra August 3, 2019 / 2:02 pm

    I was admiring a butterfly just yesterday and now I know that it is a painted lady! It was nowhere near my single surviving verbena plant; it seemed quite content with the catmint. Next year I hope to have more verbena success 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome to the Beautiful North August 3, 2019 / 5:00 pm

      The cat mint is the most popular of the ‘food’ plants in my garden, and it has spread like wildfire. The bees and butterflies love feasting on it and the cats enjoy sniffing it 😁.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sandra August 3, 2019 / 6:14 pm

        It’s the most popular in my garden too. Yesterday I found a distinctly cat-shaped spot in the middle of one clump – totally flattened! One happy cat methinks!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. matthewmckinnonsblog August 3, 2019 / 3:32 pm

    Whay a lovely blog, I really enjoyed reading that, and loved the photos also! I read that these seemingly fragile butterflies can travel at 30mph! wow!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome to the Beautiful North August 3, 2019 / 5:04 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s incredible, isn’t it? Dover to Calais in less than an hour! 😁 It is truly amazing that such fragile creatures can travel such distances without stopping.


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