West Coast Lady and American Lady Butterflies (Vanessa)

The genus Vanessa is a small group of brushfooted butterflies in the United States, consisting of four species:
  • American Lady
  • Painted Lady
  • Red-Admiral
  • West Coast Lady

Often the genus is referred to as the lady butterflies. Despite the presence of the Red-Admiral, the group can be physically distinguished from the Admirals (Limenitis genus) based on the patterns on the underside of the wings, which have a more leafy or camouflage appearance than Admiral wings.

The American Lady, Painted Lady and West Coast Lady share similar wing patterns from a top view perspective. All three also share an overlapping range in the Western United States, sometimes making field identification a confusing task.

The first picture shows a top view of the American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis). It includes a line and white dot notation. The white dot is a basic field identification mark for the species.

The second picture (immediately above this line) shows a top view of the West Coast Lady (Vanessa annabella). Note the absence of a white dot on the wings. The bottom of the wings also shows a pattern of four blue dots circled in black, another field identification mark.

From a distance, the Painted Lady (not shown) looks to have black or dark dots on the bottom of the wing, with no white dot on the forewing.


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