painted lady(redirected from American painted ladies)
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(Pyrameis cardui), a butterfly of the family Nymphalidae with a wingspread reaching 6 cm. Painted ladies are brownish black with white and pinkish red spots; the underside of the hind wings has a marbled design and eye spots along the outer edge. The caterpillar is yellow and dark gray and is covered with spines. It usually lives in the leaves of plants of the family Compositae, especially thistle, drawing the leaves together with silk threads. The painted lady is found on all the continents except South America. During years of mass reproduction, the caterpillars damage soybeans, sunflowers, hemp, cotton, and other crops. Measures to control the insect include weeding crops during the egg-laying period and spraying the plants with insecticides.