I recently spotted an American Painted Lady butterfly for the first time. It was flitting around the yellow tickseed at King Farm. Scientifically known as Coreopsis, tickseed was named Florida’s state wildflower in 1991; there are 13 native species of Coreopsis throughout the state.
The American Painted Lady is different from the Painted Lady butterfly. As with the American version, I’ve only ever seen one Painted Lady; it was at a butterfly farm in New York. There were hundreds of Monarchs under the tent and only one Painted Lady:
The two butterflies look very similar but have two distinguishing traits – their orange color and hindwing eye spots. The orange wings of the Painted Lady are paler than those of the American Painted Lady, and the Painted Lady has four small eye spots on its hindwings. The American Painted Lady has two large eye spots on its hindwings.
In Gardening for Florida’s Butterflies, Pamela F. Traas says, “The best way to attract American lady butterflies to your garden is to plant large masses of the same nectar plant” (36). That could be why I spotted this one at King Farm. There was a huge patch of Coreopsis in one spot. Tickseed is in the Aster family. In addition to providing nectar, plants in the Aster family, along with a few cudweed species, are host plants for American Painted Ladies.
Traas, Pamela F. Gardening for Florida’s Butterflies. St. Petersburg, FL: Great Outdoors Publishing Company, 1999.