Butterflies of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance

Common Name begins with:
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Scientific Name begins with:
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Once on a species account page, clicking on the "View PDF" link will show the flight data for that species, for each of the three regions of the state.
Other information, such as high counts and earliest/latest dates, can also been seen on the PDF page.

Related Species in NYMPHALIDAE:
<<       >>
Common NameEastern Comma by Roger Rittmaster => Durham Co.
[View PDF]
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[Google Images]     BoA [Images ]
Scientific NamePolygonia comma
Link to BAMONA species account.
MapClick on a county for list of all database records for the species in that county.
DistributionDISTRIBUTION: Essentially statewide, but a number of counties in the Coastal Plain are lacking records. However, probably occurs, at least on rare occasions, in all counties. The first and only report for the Outer Banks was made in 2006.
AbundanceABUNDANCE: Uncommon to often fairly common in the mountains, but only at times fairly common in the Piedmont; uncommon in the upper Coastal Plain, but rare in the lower Coastal Plain. Less common than the Question Mark; usually outnumbered about 3:1 by that species in most places where both occur.
FlightFLIGHT PERIOD: As with the Question Mark, there are two broods. Adults overwinter and can occasionally be seen in mid- to late winter. Adults are normally on the wing by February in the Piedmont, and starting by March elsewhere. The first new brood is present in May and early June; they fly sporadically into August, but many individuals aestivate. The second new brood emerges in August and flies to late October, rarely to mid-November, after which the butterflies overwinter by hibernating in hollow logs and other highly sheltered places.
HabitatHABITAT: The habitat is identical to that of the Question Mark in NC -- deciduous or mixed forests, usually where moist; generally along openings such as dirt roads or trails, or along forest edges. It also frequently perches on dirt roads and trails.
See also Habitat Account for Rich Wet-Mesic Hardwood Forests
PlantsFOOD AND NECTAR PLANTS: Nettles (Urticaceae) are the main foodplants, but elms (Ulmus spp.) are also used. Feeding habits of adults are like those of the Question Mark -- seldom at flowers, but often seen on roads and trails, at sap on trees, carrion, etc.
CommentsCOMMENTS: This is a fast and erratic flier, often difficult to identify positively on the wing. Perched individuals are also wary and difficult to approach to see the field marks well. Fortunately, in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, only the Question Mark can be confused with it, but in the mountains the Gray Comma and the Green Comma also are found (though both are very rare). More field work needs to be done near the northeastern coast to see if the species really is rare in the Albemarle/Pamlico area.

For several years, the Butterflies of America website has listed the common name for this species as Comma Anglewing. Even though the Green Comma is listed there as Green Anglewing and the Gray Comma is listed as Gray Anglewing, that website has retained Question Mark as a common name, as opposed to Question Mark Anglewing. Because nearly all reference books and field guides, as well as NatureServe Explorer, still use "xxxxx Comma" for common names for the first three species, we will retain Eastern Comma, Green Comma, and Gray Comma as common names on this website, for at least the near future.
State RankS5
State Status
Global RankG5
Federal Status
Other NameComma, Comma Anglewing, Hop Merchant

Links to other butterfly galleries: [Cook] [Lynch] [Pippen] [Pugh]
Photo Gallery for Eastern Comma
Photo by: Roger Rittmaster
Comment: Durham Co.
Eastern Comma - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Ed Corey
Comment: Winter form. William B. Umstead State Park, Wake Co.; 2006-Feb-16
Eastern Comma - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Jeff Pippen
Comment: Summer form. Buncombe Co., 8 July 2006
Eastern Comma - Click to enlarge
Photo by: W. Cook
Comment: Buncombe Co., 8-July-2006
Eastern Comma - Click to enlarge