The October sun reaches its zenith as the big blue truck rolls to a stop on Muddlety Creek. Running errands has become a bit of a double duty for me. It’s a chance to to get off my mountain and get some variety of scenery. I’ve come to the spot where the old barn slowly fades into the past. I fear that the end is near for her but I digress. If the mind has an eye that shows us worlds just beyond perception then the heart has an ear that listens to the story of those worlds. The old barn speaks in whispers so your heart has to open wide to hear her. As I tuned my heart to listen to the old barn I distinctly heard a different voice giggling playfully. The giggle came from a dead leaf off to my left and was causing the barn to pause her story. I lowered my lens and before I could take a step to see what this giggler was up to the wings slowly opened to reveal the beautiful orange colored wings of Wood Nymph Butterfly. Abandoning her perfect perch on a twig she launched herself my direction and circled my head before landing at my feet and displaying her magnificent wings. Her pattern was nearly identical to her cousin the Question Mark Butterfly. “Are you a.. Comma Butterfly?” I asked softly. The butterfly slowly folded her wings and revealed that identifying mark.
She couldn’t couldn’t help but to cause a pause in the conversation between the old barn and I. After all, she is a Comma Butterfly.
While the Patty Duke Show is a little before my time I had heard the theme song and while looking at the pictures of the two butterflies that song kept playing in my head.
So let’s take a look at two and how we can tell them apart.
I’ll start with a blown up version of the underside of the Comma Butterfly wing.
The Comma Butterfly had a mottled brown pattern underneath where the pattern of the Question Mark Butterfly was bluish Grey but that color may not be consistent in all individuals. It’s very possible that the tone may vary like hair color but I hadn’t really looked that deep. The one thing that the guides agree on is the silvery spots. In the Question Mark Butterfly this spot is followed by a silver dot that forms the “?”. Comma Butterflies never have the dot. Unfortunately I was not able to get a picture of the underside of the Question Mark Butterfly but there’s plenty of examples online.
The upper side of forewing has a distinctive mark as well as seen on the next image.
The top butterly is a Comma Butterfly. The wing pattern has three black dots in a row. The other marks might be different from one individual to the next but a Comma Butterfly always has just three dots. The bottom image is from last night’s post and shows the Question Mark Butterfly. The Question Mark Butterfly will have the three dots but is always followed by a fourth elongated mark near the margin. I also noticed that the Question Mark Butterfly is lighter in color but again that could be individual genetics and not a difference between species. The information I have immediate access to is pretty basic and doesn’t really go beyond the dots on top and the silvery spots underneath. As I mentioned before they are both Wood Nymph Butterflies as is the silver spotted skipper I featured throughout the Summer. I’m not sure if they are specifically cool weather Butterflies or not but they do seem to have more fur than the Swallowtail Butterflies I see the most of.
Running into a Comma Butterfly so soon after the Question Mark Butterfly was really fortunate. They were about 15 miles apart. The Question Mark Butterfly was near Summersville Lake and the Coma Butterfly was near the edge of the marsh. Both were on the edge of woodlands which is something else that the guides agree on.
So as the season continues to change keep an eye on those ragged edged dead leaves. One just might open up and come to life in brilliant colors.
That’s it for tonight. Be blessed throughout your day friends!
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