Natural Highlights: Question Mark Butterfly


At once beautiful and cryptic, the Question Mark Butterfly (Polygonia interrogationis) has wings which are bright orange and brown edged in violet blue on the topside. The muted underside of the wings look just like a dead leaf when the wings are folded, their irregularly scalloped edges heightening the effect.  A predator might still be looking for a bright orange butterfly which has suddenly "disappeared" simply by folding its wings. 

Look closely enough at the underside of a Question Mark's wings and you will see where it gets its name: a small silvery question mark (or semicolon) on each hindwing.  The closely related Comma Butterfly has a silvery comma, naturally, and both species are considered anglewings because of the unusual shape of their wings. Hackberry and elm trees are primary host plants for Question Marks, along with nettles.  They can be seen most anyplace that attracts butterflies - river and pond edges, dappled woods, gardens and fields.  They overwinter as adults and are thus dependent on habitat in which they can find protection in tree bark and crevices, and in the fallen leaves and branches on the forest floor. 

Posted by Cathy Justis at 8:56 PM