Comma Butterfly

Polygonia c-album

Comma, Comma Butterfly

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A close up photograph of a comma butterfly, Polygonia c-album on a leaf
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The comma butterfly is similar to a tortoiseshell butterfly but appears much more rugged and tatty. The wing scales are tinted a beautiful burnt orange shade when at rest, with the undersides camouflaged perfectly to mimic a dead leaf hanging from a branch. This butterfly is named after the only white marking on the underside of the wing, shaped like a comma. These butterflies range has been expanded in the recent decade, with common nettle being the primary larval food plant. It's not always been success stories, though. Comma butterflies experienced huge drops during the 1800s when farmers began to stop growing hops, which was the main food plant for their larvae at the time.
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Traits

This species is doing substantially well in response to rising temperatures.

Appearance

Newly emerged adults are vividly orange, brown with black spots. The wings are ragged edges, making the butterfly appear a little tatty. It has a white 'comma' on the underwing. The larvae, or caterpillars, a mainly brown but possess an extensive white patch towards the rear of the body. This is a form of camouflage; they caterpillars are mimicking bird poo so that they deter predators. Pupae, or cocoons, are brown and look like a malformed leaf. Eggs are laid singularly on the tips of the food plant leaves; they are green and shiny.

Activity

Diurnal

Personality

Order

Lepidoptera

Family

Nymphalidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

A widespread butterfly present across Europe, Asia and North Africa.

Biological treatment

Butterflies are considered essential pollinators. Unfortunately, the larvae, or caterpillars, can sometimes be pests during years where conditions are optimum for their breeding. If in high abundance, caterpillars may be picked off using gloves and placed on other plants, weeds or bird tables.

Chemical treatment

It's not recommended to use pesticides on these butterflies.
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Knowledge and advice

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