The painted lady (Vanessa cardui) is an immigrant species to this country; it originates as far away as north Africa, especially in Morroco, and are usually very common in Spain. In some years we get huge quantities of them and then we can go several years with relatively few. In May 2009 Butterfly Conservation were estimating over 2 million were coming in across the Channel every day! That was an amazing year and since then I have seen hardly any but that could change if the conditions become favourable for them.
If we get an early influx, like in 2009, the arriving insects do lay eggs that hatch and that can give us a second brood in the autumn. These, together with autumn arrivals, lay eggs but they sadly cannot stand a British winter and perish.
The painted lady is a close relative of the red admiral and the markings are incredibly similar; the painted lady has delicate shades of orange and brown whereas the red admiral is, of course, boldly marked in red and black.