Long-time visitors can readily picture the smile that exploded on my face when I saw this grouping on Nichol Road in Raccoon Creek State Park. The Anglewings are a loosely related group of butterflies that never fly too far from the tree-line. This is a popular horseback riding trail, and these Comma butterflies are contentedly sipping manure!
You’ve noticed that the edges of their wings are heavily angled. Others are the Mourning cloaks, Milbert’s and Compton tortoiseshells and the Question Mark Butterflies.
Getting back to that smile- this was a A+ opportunity to show two species of commas, in a side-by-side comparison. Good.
The comma on the left is an Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma). The comma in the center remains a mystery. The comma on the right is a Gray Comma (Polygonia progne). See the differences in color, color arrangement, patterns, wing shape, size, and shape of the “comma” that appears on the hindwings. If you return several days after this has been posted, you will be able to click to enlarge the image, and these differences will be easier to view.
We can presume that these 3 individuals are all males. We have recently discussed why males need to bulk up on nutrients (flying furiously here and there to find mates/protect their ‘territory’). This plop of horse scat seems to be just super for these guys. Even more attractive is the scat of carnivores (weasels, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons at times, hawks (?), etc.).
These species much prefer the northern states and Canada. 2014 will hopefully bring me up north, and I can’t wait to share the Anglewings that abound up north from Pittsburgh.