American Ladies in the East

David Webster david.h.webster at
Tue May 1 12:53:24 EDT 2001

Hello All:                    May 1, 2001
    I collected a V. virginiensis on Apr 29 in Kentville, Nova Scotia (Lat
~45o5'N, Long ~64o30'W); flying and on the ground in a grassed clearing. We have
only recently lost most snow (continuous cover since before Christmas) and there
are still a few patches on level ground in the woods. Because it is in good
condition an e-quaintence advises me that it must have overwintered here.
    Now I hear on this list that a worn specimen is indicative of overwintering.
Being a novice, numerous clicks below amateur status, I am puzzled by this
double interpretation and also wonder why condition would be especially
    Can anyone fill me in ?
Yours truly, Dave Webster, Kentville, Nova Scotia

Jeff Crolla/Martha Hancock wrote:

> In Toronto, Ontario I saw a single V. virginiensis on April 29 and three or
> four more on April 30th (all worn but still in pretty good shape). This is a
> little early according to the Toronto checklist (earliest date given is May
> 1). Vanessa atalanta rubria are also around but I haven't seen a cardui yet.
> At Point Pelee both were first seen on April 8 this year and on April 23 a
> clear influx of 900 (!) immigrants of virgineinsis was reported along with
> 1200 V. atalanta and a single V. cardui. Not surprising some virginiensis
> have made it as far as Toronto by now. It appears clearly to be an immigrant
> in southern Canada although occasional successful overwintering cannot be
> ruled out.
> Michael's comments on the question of overwintering were interesting. In
> 1984 Opler & Krizek (Butterflies east of the Great Plains) gave virginiensis
> as resident throughout the eastern US but Opler revised this in 1992
> (Peterson Guide to eastern Butterflies) to resident in the SE U.S. only and
> an immigrant to the E/NE U.S. and southern Canada. The literature is
> contradictory on this point. For example Shapiro (1974 Butterflies and
> skippers of NY state) reported virginiensis as somewhat migratory but
> overwintering regulary in NY state. Iftner et al. (1992 Butterflies and
> Skippers of Ohio) similarily describe it as resident and occasionally
> migratory in Ohio, whereas more recently Allen for example (1997 Butterflies
> of West Virginia) says it is a spring immigrant as far south as W. virginia.
> I would be interested in any comments/information on this question as I am
> working on an article that touches on this. Also be interested in any
> literature references to southward migration of virginiensis in the fall.
> Jeff
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Michael Gochfeld" <gochfeld at EOHSI.RUTGERS.EDU>
> To: <LEPS-L at>
> Sent: Monday, April 30, 2001 09:28 PM
> Subject: American Ladies in the East
> > Apropos of the migration of Painted Ladies:
> >
> > American Ladies, Vanessa virginiensis, is unusually common this spring
> > in central and northern New Jersey. First appearing about mid-April
> > after a very cold and protracted late winter/early spring, the
> > individuals are still quite worn. They are present in the tens and
> > twenties, not an inundation, but unusual numbers nonetheless. They don't
> > really seem to be migrating as much as hanging around. There is some
> > speculation that these may have overwintered locally as adults (hence
> > the very worn condition) rather than being migrants from further south.
> >
> > M. Gochfeld
> >
> >
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