From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Vanessa \Van*es"sa\ (v[a^]n*[e^]s"s[.a]), n. [Probably from
   Swift's poem of Cadenus and Vanessa. See Vanessa, in the
   Dictionary of Noted Names in Fiction.] (Zool.)
   Any one of numerous species of handsomely colored butterflies
   belonging to Vanessa and allied genera. Many of these
   species have the edges of the wings irregularly scalloped.
   [1913 Webster]
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