This widespread species occurs over most of North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. It is highly migratory and its occurrence here is quite irregular. In most years a few can be found, though it is absent occasionally, and in some years it occurs in great abundance. I recall 1974 and 1992 as being years when it was particularly abundant. The usual foodplants are various species of thistle, but I have also found caterpillars feeding on Anaphalis margaritacea, Arctium, Helianthus, Borago officinalis, Symphytum officinale, Lupinus sericeus, Lupinus arboreas and Urtica dioica.