Comma (Polygonia c-album)

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2016 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

17110_sex?_Alpes-Maritimes_03Jul09 27439_male_Hautes-Alpes_16Jul11 11768_male?_Alpes-Maritimes_30Jun08
21757_female_Alpes-Maritimes_8Jul10 18152_female_Isère_12Jul09 33970_female_Rhône_17Jul13
22816_male_Isère_19Jul10 37411_male_Var_25May15 3407_female_Alpes-Maritimes_29Jul06

A very appealing butterfly that seems, at least in the UK, to have become more widespread over the past few decades. It hibernates in foliage where its underside colouring matches dried leaves very well, and the jagged outline or the wings adds to the camouflage. The first brood, the offspring produced by overwintering adults, is known as the form hutchinsoni with a much lighter underside pattern; it is not clear to me why a brood, albeit partially dimorphic, should merit a specific name - this is even more pronounced in the Map (Araschnia levana), but no other species as far as I know .

The second brood, which hibernates as an adult, is much darker. The uppersides of the sexes are quite similar, the female being slightly lighter, but the wings of the female are slightly less jagged.

 

Its close relative, the rare (at least in France) Southern Comma (P. egea) appears superficially very similar. The main differences are addressed on the egea page.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
17110 M

a typical but quite darkly marked second brood male, taking salts from damp wood chippings, an often-favoured source of salts for males a various species.

650
27439 M a rather dark second brood male. 1330
11768 M

a second brood male, a beautiful fresh fiery orange-red. The body shape is just visible below, and does suggest female, though.

1875
21757 F

a lightly and unusually marked first brood female seen at high altitude.

1900
18152 F

possibly a female, based on the visible end of the abdomen. It is, however, exceptionally lightly marked, even for a first brood hutchinsoni, and could easily be mistaken for egea, but the wing edges are not sufficiently jagged and the lower margin of the forewing is strongly curved here whereas it is almost straight in egea.

1120
33970 F a fresh female, very typical in terms of colouring. 180
22816 M

a first brood male.

1120
37411 M a first brood male in territorial pose. 20
3407 F

a second brood and again probably a female because of the wing edges. This seems exceptionally dark but I have not seen many c-album at altitude so maybe it is normal at these levels, even though it was flying in company with "normal" c-album.

1600

 

17110_sex?_Alpes-Maritimes_03Jul09

 

27439_male_Hautes-Alpes_16Jul11

 

11768_male?_Alpes-Maritimes_30Jun08

 

21757_female_Alpes-Maritimes_8Jul10

 

18152_female_Isère_12Jul09

 

33970_female_Rhône_17Jul13

 

22816_male_Isère_19Jul10

 

37411_male_Var_25May15

 

3407_female_Alpes-Maritimes_29Jul06