Butterfly Atlas Species Accounts

Butterfly Atlas data collected from 1986-1990

Green Comma

Polygonia faunus

Named

Edwards,1862

Identification

Wingspan: 1 15/16 - 2 7/16". Separated from other anglewings by its exceptionally irregular wing borders. The submarginal green markings on the hindwing are also diagnostic. Faunus has an angular silver comma on the hindwing below.

Distribution

Central Alaska east across boreal Canada to the Maritime Provinces; in the West, broadly southward through the Sierras and Rockies and in the East through the northern Great Lakes Region, northern New England and New York with an isolated population in the southern Appalachians (Opler, 1992).

Status in Massachusetts

No recent records. This species occurs regularly in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont; persistent and timely field work in Massachusetts should also reveal this species, presumably in small numbers. Scudder (1889) lists records for Willamstown, Warwick, Leverett, and Amherst. Farquhar called it very rare south of the White Mountains. There is a 1940‘s record from the vicinity of Mt. Greylock (R. Wendell).

Flight Period in Massachusetts

Mid summer to fall with adults overwintering and flying again in spring.

Larval Food Plants

Willows (Salix spp.), alders (Alnus spp.), birches (Betula spp.), and ericaceous plants including blueberries (Vaccinium spp.).

Adult Food Sources

Information for this species in Massachusetts is currently unavailable.

Habitat

Boreal woodlands.

Life Cycle

EGG: Green; turban shaped with eleven or twelve vertical ribs. OVIPOSITION: Eggs laid singly or in stacks of three or four on leaf of host plant. LARVA: Black to brownish yellow with greenish stripes and dark chevrons on back; head is black with a pair of branching spines typical of Polygonia species.  Larvae feed in a leaf shelter. CHRYSALIS: Tan to brown with gold colored markings; angular; hangs in inverted position from twig. OVERWINTERING STAGE: Adult.

Adults emerge from hibernation in late spring and are on the wing through late June. The new brood spend approximately five weeks in the larval stage and another two weeks as chrysalids. Adults are seen again in late July and fly until early October.

Account Author

Brian Cassie

Additional Information

Read more on this species at the North American Butterfly Association.