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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Satyr Comma - Polygonia satyrus

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status

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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 2.4-3.0 cm. Uppersurface of forewing with 2 black postmedian spots on inner margin, hindwing with pale margin, pale submarginal band, triangular black spot in middle of hindwing; undersurface brown-toned with median line relatively straight and fine dark striations running parallel to body mixed with little black dots.

Three flights in California February to November then overwintering; two flights in Colorado, Nevada, Saskatchewan, late June to early August and September to overwintering; one flight in far north, mostly late July overwintering to June (Scott 1986). June and July (early August in Canada) to October and November and overwintering (Glassberg 2001). Late February to early November with peaks in April and July to September in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002); late March to October, April to September in British Columbia (Threatful 1988; Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined from other Polygonia by a combination of uppersurface of forewing with 2 black postmedian spots on inner margin, hindwing with pale margin, pale submarginal band, triangular black spot in middle of hindwing.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Alaska panhandle and southern Yukon east across boreal and southern Canada to northern Great Lakes region, Nova Scotia, and New England, west of the Great Plains south through most of western US to southern California, Arizona and New Mexico (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); 1554 m elevation to 3353 m in Colorado (Brown 1957; Scott and Scott 1978), near sea level to 2073 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005), 456 m elevation to 1219 m in southeastern British Columbia (Threatful 1988). In Montana, reported from the western 3/4 of the state (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993). Mainly rare to uncommon (Glassberg 2001).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 42

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



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


Riparian woodland openings, conifer woodland clearings, along streams, marshes, orchards, fields, parks, wooded prairie ravines (Scott 1986; Threatful 1988; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002). In Glacier national Park, Montana, reported from montane mesic meadows (Debinski 1993).

Food Habits
Larval food plants include Humulus, Salix, and Urtica (Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Arctium, Barbarea, Berberis, Chrysothamnus, Cirsium, Crataegus, Physocarpus, Prunus, Taraxacum, Salix, Syringa), tree sap, fruit, dung, and mud (James and Nunnallee 2011; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly or in pairs, sometimes in stacks of up to 7 hanging vertically on underside of host plant leaf, sometimes on stem (Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; James and Nunnallee 2011). Eggs hatch in about 5-7 days (depending on temperature), larvae develop rapidly, instars through L5 lasting 3-4 days each, pupation 23 days post oviposition; adults eclose (emerge from pupae) after 8-9 days. L1-L2 instars may be gregarious or solitary, rest in open on underside of leaf, older larvae construct nest on underside of leaf by drawing down edges and fastening them together; overwinter as adults (Scott 1979, 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males territorial, perch on vegetation in sun patches along forest trails and tree-shaded banks, pursue passing females; mating usually occurs in spring where univoltine (Scott 1975b, 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011).

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Citation for data on this website:
Satyr Comma — Polygonia satyrus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from