question mark (Polygonia interrogationis)
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.
FAMILY: Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)
SUBFAMILY: True Brushfoots (Nymphalinae)
IDENTIFICATION: Forewing hooked; upperside is red-orange with black
spots. Upperside hindwing of summer form is mostly black with a short
tail; that of winter form has much orange and a longer, violet-tipped tail.
Underside is light brown; hindwing with pearly white question mark in
LIFE HISTORY: Males find females by perching on leaves or tree trunks
in the afternoon, flying to chase other insects and even birds. Females
lay eggs singly or stacked under leaves of plants that are usually not the
hosts. Caterpillars must find a host plant; they then eat leaves and live
alone. Adults of the winter form hibernate; some staying in the north,
many migrating to the south.
FLIGHT: Overwintered adults fly and lay eggs in the spring until the end
of May. The summer form emerges and flies from May-September,
laying eggs that develop into the winter form; these adults appear in
late August and spend the winter in various shelters.
WING SPAN: 2 1/4 - 3 inches (5.7 - 7.6 cm).
CATERPILLAR HOSTS: American elm (Ulmus americanus), red elm
(Ulmus rubra), hackberry (Celtis), Japanese hop (Humulus japonicus),
nettles (Urtica), and false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica).
ADULT FOOD: Rotting fruit, tree sap, dung, carrion. Only when these are
unavailable do Question Marks visit flowers such as common milkweed,
aster, and sweet pepperbush.
HABITAT: Wooded areas with some open space, city parks, suburbs,
RANGE: Southern Canada and all of the eastern United States except
peninsular Florida, west to the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains,
south to southern Arizona and Mexico.
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