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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Green Comma - Polygonia faunus

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 2.0-2.6 cm. Has extremely ragged wing edges; upperside reddish brown with wide dark borders, forewing with inner two costal spots fused or nearly so; upper hindwing border contains yellow submarginal spots. Underside variegated brown, the outer half lighter, with two rows of bluish-green submarginal spots on both fore- and hindwings, center of hindwing with an inconspicuous L- or C-shaped whitish spot or "comma."

One flight in many areas; late July and overwintering to June in the north, overwintering to May in Colorado and Nova Scotia. Two flights; mid-June to mid-August and late August overwintering to April in California and Arizona, late June to mid-August and September overwintering to May in Virginia (Scott 1986). Single brood flies July to September and October and overwinters to following spring (Glassberg 2001), early March to late September then hibernates until following spring in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), adults fly July to fall then overwinter and emerge by following April in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by a combinations of very ragged and irregular wing margins, light yellowish submarginal spots contained in the darker upper hindwing margin, and the double row of bluish-green submarginal spots or band on the underwings, and the presence of the small whitish "comma."

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Boreal North America south of the tundra, from Alaska to Labrador, south in the west through the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, and in the Rocky Mountains to northern new Mexico, south in the east to the Great Lakes region and northern New England, with an isolated population in the southern Appalachian Mountains (Scott 1986; Glassberg 2001; Opler and Wright 1999). In Montana, throughout the western two-thirds of the state, especially in montane regions (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993). Rare to uncommon (Glassberg 2001).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 65

(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)


Wet meadows and other openings in montane coniferous and mixed-woodland forests, riparian woodlands, streamsides, woody gardens (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002; James and Nunnallee 2011). Reported in Glacier National Park, Montana in mesic and xeric montane meadows and above treeline in alpine terrain (Debinski 1993).

Food Habits
Larval food plants include Alnus, Betula, Populus, Rhododendron, Ribes, Salix, and Vaccinium (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Guppy and Shepard 2001; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Achillea, Arctostaphylos, Aster, Barbarea, Chrysothamnus, Cirsium, Erigeron, Ribes, Rudbeckia, Salix, Solidago, Taraxacum), tree sap, rotting fruit, dung, mud, and carrion (Payne and King 1969; Pyle 2002; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly on the bottoms and tops of host plant leaves, twigs, catkins. Eggs hatch in 4-6 days. L1-L2 instars remain on single leaf to feed. May reach L4 by 16 days after eggs hatch, pupation begins 32 days after hatching, eclosion (adult emergence from pupae) in about another 14 days; diapause (overwinters) as adults (Scott 1986, 1992; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males perch on shrubs or rocks in gullies and valley bottoms in afternoon to await passage of females; hibernating adults usually mate in spring (Scott 1975b, 1986).

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