Clegg's Blog

Learn about the American Lady Butterfly

1280px-American_Lady_Vanessa_virginiensis_Upper_Wings_1609pxButterflies are one of the most enchanting little creatures on Earth. Because some butterflies are pollinators, these insects are considered beneficial rather than pests. There are nearly 20,000 species of butterflies in the world, with the American Lady Butterfly being one of them. Like most butterflies, the American Lady has colorful wings and a very short lifespan.

Body Structure and Color

The American Lady Butterfly has very short front legs covered with soft hair or bristles. Because of their short little legs, at a glance it only appears that they have four instead of six legs. These medium-sized butterflies have wing spans up to 2 5/8 inches. The tops of both the forewings and hindwings are black, orange, and white. On the middle part of the forewing, there is a white dot. There are two blue spots on each of the hindwings which is only visible when the wings are open.


A member of the Brush-footed butterfly family, the American Lady Butterfly is usually found close to the ground. They prefer to be in the sun in open areas such as meadows and fields. In the summer months, they make their home in southern Canada and the northern parts of the United States. During the winter, they migrate to the southern part of the country as well as Mexico. American Lady butterflies normally feed on flower nectar and overripe or rotting fruit. Every year, two or three generations of this species of butterfly can be born.


Before becoming butterflies, these caterpillars nest in host plants such as Cudweed, Pearly Everlasting, Rabbit Tobacco, and plants in the Aster family. The caterpillar is tubular in shape and black in color with thin yellow bands or stripes around its body. In between the yellow bands are reddish-brown or white spots with bristles coming out of the spotted parts. They blend in easily with the grass or the ground, making them difficult to see. When the caterpillars are disturbed, they usually curl up into a tight little circle. This species of caterpillar pupates different colors, depending on its surroundings. If the background is green, its chrysalis shines in the light.

Professional Assistance

The American Lady Butterfly is a lovely little insect that rarely causes problems. If you want more information about this beautiful butterfly or have any pest control questions, contact Clegg’s online or on the phone at 888-672-5344 for a complete evaluation of your home or business.

Sign up to receive tips, promotions, events, and news updates.

Follow Clegg’s