I think of the Painted Lady butterfly as "big and brown" but the predominent colour of the upperside of the wings is best described as orange/tan/pink. There are white markings against the dark brown/black edge of the wingtips. The underside of the wings are lighter-coloured than other common butterflies from the Nymphalidae family - mainly white and orange/tan/pink.
months seen in my garden: June, end July-October, most in August
garden plants that attract this species:
Buddleia, Ceratostigma, Escallonia, Hebe, Helichrysum, Heliotrope, Hemp Agrimony, Hyssop, Marigold, Red Valerian, Scabious, Sedum, Sweet William, Verbena, Zinnia
First sighting of Painted Lady, 1 August
Painted Lady on Hebe, 5 August
Painted Lady on Verbena bonariensis at Berkeley Castle, 3 September
Painted Lady on Hemp agrimony at Coaley Peak, 3 September
Painted Lady on Escallonia, 12 June
I have 90 digital images saved from 2003. Here's a selection of 10 (click on the thumbnail to view the full size image):
On Buddleia Nanho Blue. August 2.
On pink Hyssop. Side view. August 6.
On Buddleia. Side view. August 4.
Looking at the top of the wings from rear. Buddleia 'White Profusion' with edge of Comma wing in foreground. August 4.
Hanging upside down on Buddleia Nanho Blue. July 30.
Top view on Sedum spectabile. August 23.
From the back! July 30.
Side view on Verbena. August 5.
Another side view. August 12. Picture taken in the "cut flower garden" at Stourhead, Wilts. I think the plant is Zinnia.
I had read that Hemp Agrimony was a butterfly-attracting plant. Here's the blurry evidence; Small Tortoiseshell in the foreground. August 12.
If you'd like to try photographing butterflies, I recommend the Painted Lady butterfly as possibly the easiest to photograph.
Painted Lady butterflies like Buddleia and Verbena bonariensis in particular.
2003 was a good year for migrating Painted Lady butterflies and I recorded 8 sightings in June; in contrast, I didn't see a Painted Lady butterfly until August in 2002.
Size: 65mm (between Small White & Large White - see list of butterflies by size)
First Generation flight period: May-June
Second Generation flight period: August-September
This butterfly species is classed as a regular migrant. They come from North Africa - sometimes in great clouds apparently. Once here they produce the next generation but can not survive the cold of a traditional British winter (except for the odd one in Cornwall?)
Larval Food Plants: Thistles, Burdocks, Mallows & Nettles
Wild Nectar Plants: Hemp Agrimony
Family Group: Nymphalidae - see list of butterflies by family