|scientific name Polygonia faunus |
common name Green Comma
Boreal forest clearings and roadways, occasionally occurring in the aspen parkland.
One brood per year, appearing in early spring (April to May) and again in August to October.
The predominantly grey underside is most like that of P. progne, P. oreas and P. gracilis; the Green Comma has a more mottled rather than a two-toned underside, and the moss-green patches in the margins of the underside will serve to distinguish it. There is some variability over this species' distribution in the province, and it is unclear at the time which subspecies names are best applied (N. Kondla, unpubl. data).
The green eggs are sculpted with 10 - 12 vertical ribs, and are laid in the spring after females overwinter and mate. The mature larvae are spiny with black, bilobed heads, the front half of the body coloured rust-brown and the rear pure white (Guppy & Shepard 2001). Pupae are brown or grey with silvered tubercles (Guppy & Shepard 2001). Adults hibernate in wood piles, unheated buildings and hollow trees and stumps (Guppy & Shepard 2001).
Not of concern.
In BC, the larvae feed on willows (Salix spp.), alder (Alnus spp.) and paper birch (Betula payrifera) (Guppy & Shepard 2001). Adults rarely visit flowers, preferring instead the sap of poplars (Populus spp.) and willows (Salix spp.) (Guppy & Shepard 2001), particularly in the spring when sap flows are high and contain lots of sugars. Carrion and mammal scat will also attract commas.
The Green Comma is found from Alaska east across the boreal region to Newfoundland and New England, in the west south to California and New Mexico (Layberry et al. 1998, Opler 1999).
Joe Belicek (2014-03-18)
Polygonia faunus (W. H. Edwards, 1862)
On several occasions I reared dozens of specimens of this species from eggs laid by captive females, sleeved on Ribes inerme (Grossulariceae). In Alberta, this family consists of currants and gooseberries. I planted the two bushes of White-stem Gooseberry in my back yard, purchased just for this purpose from a nursery. The females were captured in the McKinnon ravine. In the city, this aptly named butterfly is confined to woodlands of the ravines. Faunus is named for its preferred haunts, in reference to a woodland deity. The leafy green eggs with 10-12 longitudinal ridges are laid singly on the upper surface of the host plant. Upon hatching, the solitary, spiny larvae position themselves beneath the leaf leaf, usually resting on the mid-rib. The head capsule of all Polygonia species bears two prominent scoli. The scoli are also found on the larval head capsule of the related & presumably ancestral Roddia j-album & R. l-album. After consuming the leaf, the larvae move onto another leaf on the branch, until the foliage is completely stripped from it. Then the larva moves onto another, nearby branch. It is possible to find larvae in the wild by looking for denuded branches on the host plant. In captivity, several of the otherwise solitary larvae could be kept indoors on potted Ribes in close proximity. The larvae only leave the free standing plant to find suitable pupation site. The feeding happens mostly at night. As pointed out by W. H. Edwards (1887), P. faunus is univoltine, in comparison to a Eurasian bi-voltine sibling P. c-album. - CAN. Ent., 19: 2-4.
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