West Coast Lady Butterfly
( Vanessa annabella )


2012-0415-01100110-LEP00194-Vanessa_annabella[1444h24s,F,A,plant-flower]{JRyugo}-G.jpg

PHOTO COMMENT

IDENTIFICATION
Identification:Vanessa annabella
(W. D. Field, 1971)
Common Name:West Coast Lady Butterfly
Life Stage:(A) adult

PHYLOGENY

Phylum:Arthropoda
Class:Insecta
Superorder:Holometabola
Order:Lepidoptera
Family:Nymphalidae
Subfamily:Nymphalinae
Tribe:Nymphalini
Genus:Vanessa
Taxon Code:LEP00194
ITIS TSN#:778036

LOCATION DETAILS
Location
Lakeside Park, General, Lakeside Park, 666 Bellevue, Oakland
County:Alameda County
ECI Site#:CA01100110

RECOGNITION
The most obvious character that separates this from the very similar Painted Lady, is the large subapical bar near the front of the forewing, which is orange on this species (left) and white in The Painted Lady - V. cardui (right). A close look at the dark markings will show lots of other details that are different. The shape of the wings is also somewhat different.
Wingspan
3.8-5.7 cm
Similar Taxa
Vanessa cardui and V. carye. Was known until 1971 as Vanessa carye. Typical V. carye is South American. The two are virtually identical, and morphological differences are minimal and possibly inconsistant. Opinions vary, and the distinction as separate species or not is debated, but it seems possible that V. annabella could eventually be placed back into V. carye, or considered a subspecies of it. Our butterfly can sometimes be found listed under either name.

BIOLOGY
Food
Mostly Urtica (Nettles) and many different Mallows (Malvaceae), but apparently also sometimes on certain Legumes (Alfalfa, Lupine).
Host
Host plants are herbaceous Mallows, including Cheeseweed (Malva), Alkali Mallow (Malvella),and Hollyhock (Alcea); not recorded locally on Velvet Leaf (Abutilon theophrasti). The species also uses Urticaceae. Several broods, the entire season at any given location.
Habitat
Not picky, but usually in open sunny areas and an avid visitor of many flowers.
Active Period
At low elevations this species is more often seen in cool seasons. Adults hibernate, but near sea level can be seen sunbathing and being territorial on sunny, mild days all winter long. There is probably some altitudinal migration, but no evidence of latitudinal migration as in V. cardui.
Development
Seems to overwinter in various stages (larvae, pupae, adults), and has multiple generations per year in most areas.
Range
West coast from British Columbia to Guatemala and east to Alberta, Dakotas, w. Nebraska, w. Kansas, w. Oklahoma, and w. Texas; through most of Mexico. Becoming rare at it's eastern limits, where it may not be a permanent resident. Some seasons it strays further east than others, and it may appear far east of its usual distribution.

HABITAT
Not picky, but usually in open sunny areas and an avid visitor of many flowers.

CREDITS
Photographer
Jim Ryugo

REFERENCES
  • Species Vanessa annabella - West Coast Lady. (http://bugguide.net/node/view/12876). Accessed March 12, 2016. [ IMAGES ]
  • Integrated Taxonomic Information System TSN#778036
  • Art Shapiro's Butterfly Site (http://butterfly.ucdavis.edu/butterfly/Vanessa/annabella)
  • Butterflies and Moths of North America (http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Vanessa-annabella)


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