Question Mark Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

Question Mark butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

This is a favorite photograph and there is much about this image that earns that status for me. In this picture Polygonia interrogations is soaking up the warm sunshine of the morning. When those rays raise the butterfly’s internal temperature, it will no longer tolerate me.  Sure enough, the 15″ space between us signaled much too much risk and the butterfly jetted off into nearby trees. In this photograph the butterfly has a regal air about it. It is frocked in colors that remind me of the elegant cloaks worn by actors playing English royalty.

I’m also reminded of the rich leathers and felt hats offered in stores along Madison  Avenue in Manhattan in the ’80’s.  It’s those brown colors that tickle my memory, and I Love, capital ‘L,’ those orange-reds that cover the wings here and there, accented by the black splotches and highlighted by the sensitive purple at the wing edges.

Questions Mark butterflies are not seen in groups and I have only seen them infrequently, here and there. This one is on a leaf along Nichol Road in Raccoon Creek State Park in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Seen along the edges of trails, they are rarely (never) seen eating nectar from flowers. They will visit scat to eat, and when alarmed they often fly up to nearby trees and alight onto the far-side of a tree trunk. When you approach them cautiously, some very fine photographs can be taken of the ventral faces of their wings. We can see the intricate patterns of lines and other patterns, and of course this is the angle wing with tails.


4 thoughts on “Question Mark Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

  1. Beautiful, Jeff. I got a few shots of one in early 2012 in my daughter’s gravel drive in the North GA mountains. There were actually two of them. My pics were not so beautiful as yours. It was very difficult to get close enough tor good shots.


    • Thanks Jim. They are approachable early here in Pennsylvania. Once the morning has passed 9:30, they become F-16’s and zip away with flight patterns that fighter jets would have a hard time copying. Anyway, most summers I’m out photo’ing 40-50 mornings, so I do get to have some opportunities.
      We both know that tomorrow….


    • Paula, Thank you. Question Mark butterflies are not too distant relatives of the beautiful tortoiseshell and comma butterflies seen at your pumpkin. They’re all grouped loosely as Anglewings (for obvious visual reason). A morning msg that brings a smile. Jeff

      On Sun, Jul 7, 2013 at 8:18 AM, Winged Beauty


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