Posts Tagged ‘comma butterfly’

Autumnwatch #4: The Comma: Is it a leaf? Is it a form of punctuation? No, it’s a Butterfly!

IMG_0465  Another butterfly that you might catch flying on these sunny Autumn days is the Comma (Polygonia c-album). A member of Nymphalidae, it is drawn to late autumn flowers and fallen fruit. It’s a very interesting species for a number of reasons. Firstly, look at that camouflage! The whole wing shape of the Comma has evolved to look like the shape of a dead leaf; when it closes its wings, all you see are the crinkled brown undersides, a perfect illusion. Even the attractive uppersides are an aesthetically seasonal mix of orange and brown.IMG_0407

GRAMMATICAL BUTTERFLIES?

So why the unusual name? Well, if you look closely in the picture below, you can see a little white mark on the underside of the wings that looks like… a comma. Bizarrely enough, the butterfly has a North American relative called ‘The Question Mark’ that has a white mark that looks a bit like…a question mark! (I challenge you to a cross-curricular link to this preparation for Mr Gove’s SPAG test!)

IMG_0417

Spot the comma…

question-mark-butterfly-with-folded-wings-doris-potter

And spot the question mark on its North American friend..
(Picture source: Fine Art America)

FLUCTUATING POPULATIONS

The Comma is now quite a frequent sight across Britain, but once the situation was very different. At the turn of the century, numbers started a massive decline; by the 1920s there were only a few colonies left in Hereford and Worcestershire. Happily, things suddenly and inexplicably improved, and this species is one of the few butterfly success stories of recent years.

More info and photos here…http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?species=c-album

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