Mexico, USA & Canada
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Williamsburg, Massachusetts, USA ©
genus Polygonia comprises 17 species,
found variously in North America, Europe, temperate Asia and north
Africa. There are 9 species found in North America.
genus the butterflies are instantly recognisable by their
characteristic ragged wing shape. Most species have a similar
upperside pattern of dark brown spots on a golden-orange ground
colour. On the undersides they are cryptically marked to resemble
dead leaves or tree bark, and have a white or silvery mark in the
centre of the hindwing - in interrogationis
this mark is shaped like a question mark, hence the popular name.
Polygonia interrogationalis is
distributed from southern Canada, through the central and eastern
states of the USA to central Mexico. It also occurs as a rare
migrant in Cuba.
This species is
found in subtropical and temperate open deciduous woodlands, at
altitudes between sea level and about 1000m.
The pale green
vertically ribbed eggs are laid either singly or in loose piles of
up to half a dozen, on the underside of leaves of the larval
foodplants. The caterpillars feed on Ulmus
and Celtis ( trees- Ulmaceae ),
Humulus ( vines - Moraceae ), and on
stinging nettles Urtica ( Urticaceae ).
When fully grown they are black, covered in white dots. They have
thin yellow lines along the back, wavy orange lines along the sides,
and are adorned with multi-branched orange spines on the back and
sides. They live solitarily and feed diurnally.
Males perch, with
wings either open or closed, on the foliage of trees and bushes to
await passing females. They often imbibe mineralised moisture from
damp soil, dung or carrion. Females are seen less often, usually
when nectaring, and tend to prefer the flowers of trees and shrubs
to those of herbaceous plants.