eastern comma (Polygonia comma)
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.
FAMILY: Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)
SUBFAMILY: True Brushfoots (Nymphalinae)
IDENTIFICATION: Small with short hindwing projections. Forewing
above is brownish-orange with dark spots; one dark spot at center of
bottom edge. Hindwing above has two patterns: summer form is mostly
black, winter form is orange with black spots; both have a dark border
containing pale spots. Underside is brown; hindwing with a central silver
or white comma which is swollen at both ends.
LIFE HISTORY: Males perch on leaves or tree trunks to watch for
females, flying aggressively to chase other insects or even birds. Eggs
are laid singly or in stacks under host plant leaves or stems. Caterpillars
are usually solitary and feed on leaves at night. Older caterpillars make
daytime shelters by pulling leaf edges together with silk. Winter form
adults hibernate, some first migrating to the south.
FLIGHT: Overwintered adults fly and lay eggs in the spring until the end
of April. The summer form emerges and flies from May-September,
laying eggs that develop into the winter form. These adults appear in
September or October and soon seek shelter in which to overwinter.
WING SPAN: 1 3/4 - 2 1/2 inches (4.5 - 6.4 cm).
CATERPILLAR HOSTS: All members of the elm and nettle families
including American elm (Ulmus americana), hops (Humulus), nettle
(Urtica), false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica), and wood nettle
ADULT FOOD: Rotting fruit and tree sap.
HABITAT: Deciduous woodlands; woods near rivers, marshes, swamps,
and other water sources.
RANGE: Eastern half of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains
from southern Canada to central Texas and the Gulf Coast.
CONSERVATION: Not usually required.
NATURESERVE GLOBAL STATUS: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally,
though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the
MANAGEMENT NEEDS: None reported.
SKY MEADOWS OCCURRENCE:
Note: Due to seasonal conditions in this region, occurrence may vary from
year to year. The designation of occurrence may range over two or more
categories and may vary even during a single season.
Key to Checklist
A Abundant: Easy to see very large numbers of individuals in appropriate habitat
at proper time of year.
C Common: Usually each to see good numbers of individuals in appropriate habitat
at proper time of year.
U Uncommon: Sometimes found in appropriate habitat and proper time of year,
usually in low numbers.
O Occasional: Found in appropriate habitat perhaps only a few times a year, usually
in low numbers.
R Rare: Small chance of being found, even in appropriate habitat at proper time of
year. There are few individuals and may not be present every year.
X Extirpated: Formerly present, no longer occurs in Sky Meadows Park.
Crooked Run Valley