Southern Comma (Polygonia egea)

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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.

6619_female_Alpes-Maritimes_8Jun07 6638_female_Alpes-Maritimes_8Jun07 38005_male_Alpes-Maritimes_27Jun15

Egea has a southern European distribution and is quite rare in France where it only occurs in one small section of the south-eastern corner. By 2007 this was the only one I had seen for certain, although it is possible that in 2006 I saw a second brood egea, which is darker than the first brood and therefore more likely to be confused with the Comma (P. c-album); it seemed just too pale for c-album, but at the time I preferred to look rather than snap and without a photograph there is always doubt. Having seen several very light c-album since, the one I saw in 2006 could easily have been c-album. I did see a second egea for certain in 2009 in the Alpes-Maritimes. I heard of a sighting of one in mid-October 2011(!) in the same general area of the Alpes-Maritimes; there do not appear to be any other records of sightings anywhere else in France. In 2015, I saw egea for only the third time.

An underside shot is probably essential for definitive identification although the lower forewing margin is almost conclusive on its own, the margin of egea being almost straight whereas the c-album margin is highly curved. The underside is also distinctive, being lighter than c-album, and having the appearance of a piece of wood or bark, perfect camouflage. The unh white mark is more of a "Y" than the "C" of c-album, although I have seen and photographed c-album with a white mark somewhere between the egea Y and the c-album C. The wing edges are rather more jagged in egea than c-album.
ref sex

observations

alt. m
6619 F

a first brood egea, which I originally thought was a male, but now believe to be a female based on the lightness of the markings. The curvature of the body maybe also suggests female, but this can be deceptive when viewed from this angle.

330
6638 F

the underside of 6619.

330
38005 M a male underside, with just a little of the upperside showing. This was patrolling a track and seeing off all interlopers, settling in this characteristic pose on the rock face 2m above the ground and always heading downwards. This is only the third egea I have seen. 1000

 

6619_female_Alpes-Maritimes_8Jun07

 

6638_female_Alpes-Maritimes_8Jun07

 

38005_male_Alpes-Maritimes_27Jun15