Congratulations to Bryan Pfeiffer for winning the July 2017 iNaturalist Vermont photo-observation of the month contest. His image of a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) was the most popular photo-observation as measured by clicked ‘favs’. Painted Ladies arrived in Vermont in large numbers at the end of the month and were noted by many across the state.
The Painted Lady can be found on all continents except Australia and Antarctica. This butterfly undertakes epic migrations. It is adapted to dry and open land and is unable to survive freezing temperatures in any of its life stages. In the Old World the Painted Lady does not overwinter north of the Mediterranean Sea. Each spring there is an annual migration of butterflies from more southern regions of Africa. In North America the migration is thought to originate in northwestern Mexico where they are present every month of the year. In some years when seasonal rains have been heavy in that region, the butterflies appear in large numbers and migrate north and northeast. There is increasing evidence that climatic anomalies such as El Niño, bring more rains to these arid regions helping to produce huge numbers of butterflies and triggering large-scale migrations northward. At least some of the late summer and fall generation in the the north may migrate southward before autumn frosts arrive.
Visit iNaturalist Vermont, a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life, and you can vote for the winner this month by clicking ‘fav’ on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!