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Eastern Comma (en.) // Polygonia comma (lat.)
Nymphalidae, Brush-footed Butterflies
1 3/4-2" (44-51 mm). Wing margins ragged, HW has short tail. Rust-brown above, with black blotches. HW above has broad dark margin, spotted with yellow in fall and spring broods; summer brood HW is suffused with blackish-brown above. Borders above may be violet in fall forms. Underside of fall brood male patterned brown, female dull brown; summer brood golden-brown. All forms below have silver comma mark usually clubbed or hooked at both ends.
Species Other anglewings extremely similar; see individual descriptions. Question Mark has silver dot opposite comma and pronounced HW tails.
Egg pale green, keg-shaped, ribbed; 2-9 deposited in vertical columns. Caterpillar, to 1" (25 mm), light green to brown with complex spines along length. Chrysalis brown with a few gold or silver spots along sides; curved, irregular shape resembles a bit of twisted wood. Hops (Humulus lupulus) and nettles (Urtica dioica, Boehmeria cylindrica) are preferred host plants; also elms (Ulmus). Adults overwinter, emerging in spring.
2 broods in North, 3 farther south; March or April until cold nights.
Clearings in edges of thickets, groves, and forests; also watercourses and moist, open woods.
Saskatchewan to E. Colorado, east to Maritimes and North Carolina, and south to Mississippi and central Georgia.
Like the other anglewings, the Comma is wary. It darts rapidly and frequently at other butterflies, birds, and people, but when challenged retreats to the woods and perches upside down, camouflaged on a tree trunk. In the sun, it alights on sand, gravel, or mud to bask or drink, usually with its wings closed above its back, but sometimes spreading or opening and closing its wings with a regular rhythm.
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