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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Eastern Comma - Polygonia comma


Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SU

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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Glassberg 2001] Forewing 2.4-2.9 cm. Relatively small. Stubby tail-like projections on hindwing margin; upper surface orange-brown and dark brown with darker spots and patches, dorsal forewing lacks small subapical black bar and the apex two-toned, dorsal hindwing primarily black (summer form ) or orange with black spots ("winter" form), dark border on hindwing encloses pale spots and is broader than forewing border; under surface brown toned, ventral hindwing with very jagged black postmedian line below silver or white comma mark, the comma swollen on both ends.

Phenology
Two flights in much of range; April to August, the second in August and overwintering to May as adults (Bitzer and Shaw 1983; Glassberg 2001). Probably one flight in Manitoba and Maine, July and overwintering until June; three flights in the southeastern US (Scott 1986).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best told by combination of the dorsal forewing lacking small subapical black bar and the apex two-toned, dark border on dorsal hindwing encloses pale spots and is broader than forewing border, ventral hindwing with very jagged black postmedian line below silver or white comma mark, the comma swollen on both ends.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
Throughout North America east of the western Great Plains, from southern Canada (southeastern Saskatchewan to the Atlantic coast of Quebec) south to the Gulf Coast of Texas and northern Florida. Vagrants appear west of the normal range and barely reach Montana and Colorado (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Glassberg 2001). In Montana, one record (as of 2016) in 1998 near Ekalaka, Carter County, in the extreme southeastern corner of the state. Rare to uncommon outside the eastern US (Glassberg 2001).

Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 1

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Relative Density

Recency

 

(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Non-migratory. Vagrants sometimes appear west of the normal range (Scott 1986).

Habitat
Urban parks, riparian woodlands, swamps, marshes, oldfields, hop fields (Ferris and Brown 1981; Bitzer and Shaw 1983; Scott 1986). Habitat in Montana not described.

Food Habits
Larval food plants include Althaea, Amboris, Ambrosia, Boehmeria, Celtis, Humulus, Laportea, Ulmus, and Urtica. Adults feed on flower nectar (including Acer, Asclepias, Chrysanthemum, Cirsium), rotting fruit, sap, and carrion (Reed 1958; Ferris and Brown 1981: Scott 1986, 2014; Tooker et al. 2002).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lays eggs singly or stacked (up to 9 in a pile) on underside of host plant leaves or stems; larvae feed at night, usually are solitary, later instars live under a leaf with edges curled down and held in place with silk. Hibernate (overwinter) as adults. After spring emergence from hibernation (March and April in Iowa), males perch in mid-afternoon on flat ground or side branches of trees to pursue females, sometimes patrolling area around perches but usually not (Ferris and Brown 1981; Bitzer and Shaw 1983; Scott 1986)

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Eastern Comma — Polygonia comma.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from