Polygonia demystified

Eastern Comma butterfly (Polygonia comma). I found this photo in my archives and thought I would compare it to this photo of a Question Mark butterfly (P. interrogationis) I took the other day:These butterflies’ common names come from the small silver marks on the underside of their hindwings (the lower of the pair), which look like our common punctuation marks. These marks are quite hard to see in the field, but of course taxonomists tend to work with a dead specimen and see things hard if not impossible to see in the field.

There are a number of differences between these two species, but the telling field sign is that the Question Mark has an extra spot on its forewings. Note where both butterflies have a row of three spots through the center of their forewings. The Question Mark has another spot, rather more rectangular than its siblings, between the broad marks that come in from the front edge of the forewings.

4 Responses to “Polygonia demystified”


  1. 1 Rebecca April 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you! You have just solved one of my biggest butterfly ID frustrations.

  2. 2 mthew April 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Now I’m on the “hunt” for Painted Ladies flying up from the south so that I can distinguish them from the American Ladies.


  1. 1 Question Mark? « Backyard and Beyond Trackback on May 30, 2012 at 8:20 am
  2. 2 Question Mark | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on September 13, 2016 at 7:02 am

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