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Species Page - Vanessa annabella
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scientific name    Vanessa annabella    

common name     West Coast Lady

habitat
Meadows, fields and pastures, most likley to be found in the southwestern corner of the province.

seasonality
Alberta records are primarily from late July to early October.

identification
Most similar to the Painted Lady (V. cardui), but annabella has an orange spot in place of the large white spot two-thirds up the leading edge of the forewing of cardui; annabella is also smaller. There are no named subspecies.

life history
The pale green eggs are laid singly on the host plant (Scott 1986). the mature larvae can vary in colour from light brown to black, and bear yellow branched spines (Layberry et al. 1998). Like the American and Painted Lady, annabella occurs occasionally as a migrant in Alberta (although never as abundant as the Painted Lady can be). Layberry et al (1998) state annabella is a resident in southwestern Alberta and British Columbia, but all evidence suggests that it is not able to survive the Canadian winters and appears as a spring colonist from further south (Bird et al. 1995, Guppy & Shepard 2001).

conservation
Not of concern.

diet info
The larvae are known to feed on stinging nettle (Urtica dioica, Urticaceae) and garden hollyhock (Alcea rosea, Malvaceae) in BC (Guppy & Shepard 2001). Almost all other host records are in the Malvaceae (Scott 1986).

range
Southern British Columbia and Alberta (occassionally straying to eastern Saskatchewan) south to northern Mexico (Layberry et al. 1998, Opler 1999). This species was once considered to be a subspecies of V. carye, which occurs in South America south to Argentina (Scott 1986).

quick link
http://entomology.museums.ualberta.ca/searching_species_details.php?s=2661



Comments (1)Add New Comment

Joe Belicek (2014-04-22)
Vanessa annabella (Field, 1971)

To see West Coast Lady butterfly in Alberta is a matter of chance. I have seen this species on several occasions, nectaring on wild Asters and other flowers, in the vicinity of Prince Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park. Judging from the fresh appearance of the butterflies in late July, it is most likely that these butterflies represent offsprings of the immigrant parents from south of the US border. Nettles (Urtica spp.) are the suspected food plants for the caterpillars. Since the Waterton Lakes National Park is a major tourist destination of the cross-border traffic, it is very probable that with some regularity, stray specimens are brought into the area in campers and othervehicles. However, the West Coast Lady butterfly is a known migratory species. During some years, the expanding US population does reach southern Alberta, particularly when the prevailing wind and other weather conditions aid the northerly dispersal. As the cold hardiness of this species is somewhat reduced, it is unlikely the the locally bred butterflies could survive the Alberta winter.

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References (4)
Specimen Info
There are 6 specimens of this species in the online database
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Adult Seasonal Distributioncreate a collection histogram with specimens
Specimen List (6)

 

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