North American Butterflies and Moths List

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U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Vermont

Green Comma (Polygonia faunus)
JPG -- species photo

Green comma (Polygonia faunus [W. H. Edwards])

Wing span: 1 3/4 - 2 1/2 inches (4.5 - 6.4 cm).

Identification: Extremely ragged wing edges. Geographically variable. Upperside is reddish brown with wide dark borders; hindwing border contains yellow spots. Underside is brown, outer half lighter; submarginal spots are greenish; hindwing with L- or C-shaped silver spot in center.

Life history: In late afternoon, males perch on rocks or plants in gullies to wait for females. Eggs are laid singly on upper surface of host leaves, which caterpillars eat. Caterpillars are solitary and rest on the underside of leaves. Adults hibernate and mate the following spring.

Flight: One brood from May-August.

Caterpillar hosts: Small pussy willow (Salix humilis), black birch (Betula lenta), alder (Alnus), western azalea (Rhododendron occidentale), and gooseberry (Ribes).

Adult food: Flower nectar, dung, carrion.

Habitat: Forests, mountain streamsides, canyons.

Range: Boreal North America south of the tundra. Central Alaska south to central California and northern New Mexico; east across southern Canada and the Great Lakes region to New England and the Maritimes. A separate population occurs in the southern Appalachians.

Conservation: Not usually required.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Management needs: None reported.


Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns 
     Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates.

Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson 
     field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, 
     Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.

Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., 
     Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.

Author: Jane M. Struttmann

State and Regional References:

Layberry, R.A., Hall, P.W. & Lafontaine, D.J., 1998.  The Butterflies of 
     Canada.  University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.  280 pp. 
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format.
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.     
Green Comma (Polygonia faunus)
distribution map
map legend

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