Species of the month:
August - Comma butterfly

Let us know on our form below if you've seen a Comma butterfly

Comma butterfly © Amy Lewis and Richard Burkmarr

Profile:

Common Name: Comma butterfly

Latin Name: Polygonia c-album

Identification: One of the most unique UK butterflies. The comma gets its name from the white mark on the under-side of its wings which looks just like a comma! Its ragged edges tell it apart from other similar coloured butterflies (like the fritillaries).

Behaviour: The adults can fly on warm sunny days from Spring through to Autumn with the main flight season being in the summer. The males will spar with rival males in its territory whilst looking for a female to mate with. Females, once mated, will lay single eggs on common nettle leaves. The eggs will hatch a caterpillar that is well camouflaged taking on the look of a bird dropping. In the final growing stage, the chrysalis will be concealed amongst withered leaves for several weeks before the adult butterfly emerges to start the life cycle again. Adult comma butterflies can overwinter in the UK.

Eats: Commas eat nectar from suitable plants with knapweed, thistles, bramble, privet and ivy being the most popular. 

Where can they be found? Commas can be found both in the countryside and gardens. They are primarily a woodland butterfly often seen along country lanes and woodland rides. However they are also partial to fruit and so can be found in orchards or gardens where there are good sources of fruit or nectar rich plants which helps them build up their fat reserves before hibernating for the winter.

Wildife Gardening Tips:

Here are some tips on how to help commas in your garden:

  • Plant nectar rich flowers
  • Think about the full 12 months of the year when buying plants for your garden as commas can be out looking for food (nectar) in the Spring and Autumn.
  • Allow some nettles to grow in a corner of your garden or in a container as this is the preferred plant for the female to lay its eggs on.
  • Avoid using harmful insecticides.
  • Water your plants in periods of dry weather using collected rainwater- plants do not produce as much nectar when its dry.

Let us know if you've seen a Comma butterfly below...

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