Image: Veronique Brosseau Matossy
A lone antenna pops out as the butterfly continues to emerge.
As a caterpillar, the Painted Lady sheds its skin four times before becoming a butterfly. And, each time, it looks noticeably different – which makes identifying it a bit tricky unless you know exactly what you’re looking at. In its final instar, the caterpillar body is dark brown and covered in bristles. When it’s ready to begin its transformation, it finds a good spot to which to attach itself.
Using some sticky silk to hold itself in place, the caterpillar will then hang from its chosen spot in a ‘J’ position. Then, over a period of up to 24 hours, the caterpillar sheds its outer skin to reveal its pupa. In the Painted Lady, the pupa is a pale brown or tan color with raised yellow dots. Shape, color and size of pupae vary hugely between species.