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Thistle Caterpillar - (Vanessa cardui)

The Thistle Caterpillar is as spiky as its favorite host plant, but becomes a world-class butterfly when it grows up.

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Image Credit: Julie from middle TN
Full-sized image #1 of the Thistle Caterpillar Thumbnail image #1 of the Thistle Caterpillar
Adult Form: Painted Lady
Image Credit: Nathan L. from RI
Full-sized image of the Thistle Caterpillar adult form Thumbnail image of the Thistle Caterpillar adult form
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Genus: Vanessa
Species: cardui
The Thistle Caterpillar becomes the Painted Lady and its adult counterpart is also known by the name(s) of: Painted Lady Butterfly Caterpillar. The Thistle Caterpillar can be detailed through the following descriptors for identification:
black head; orange; brown; black body; spiky; spines; yellow branching spines; prickly; thorns; prick; sharp; yellow stripe; ivory; orange red nodes; hairy face.

This caterpillar has been found in the following North American states and territories:
Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico.

Note that the states/territories listed are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Thistle Caterpillar as insects typically go where they please, driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
Territorial Area Map (Visual Reference Guide)

The map below showcases (in blue) the states and territories of North America where the Thistle Caterpillar may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data can be useful in seeing concentrations of a particular species over the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some species are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America

Prince Edward Is.  
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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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