Question Mark Butterfly

Question Mark Butterfly?  There is a butterfly known as the Question Mark Butterfly?  How could I have missed knowing about this common butterfly?  I had heard about this butterfly's close cousin- the Comma, but had never knew that there was a Question Mark-  that was until I saw and photographed this Question Mark at Key Cave National Wildlife Refuge in September 2009.   It had already changed into its red fall coloration.

The Question Mark Butterfly's scientific name is Polygonia interrogationis. It is a member of the Nymphalidae family of butterflies.  Members of the Nymphalidae family are usually distinguished by their smaller forelegs and by their habit of holding their wings closed flat (as seen in the photo) while resting.

The Question Mark Butterfly gets its name from the little silver spot on its wings which you can see when it has its wings folded in its resting position (as seen in the photo.)  The Comma butterflies also have the little silver "c" on its wings that look very similar.

Can't you just see this lovely butterfly basking in the bright sunshine sipping nectar from a lovely blossom?  That would be a lovely photo.  However, one is more likely to see this butterfly congregating on a tree eating sap, or eating from a dead animal, or dining on a piece of scat- they do not usually eat nectar from a flower.   If a fly was to do this- people would think of is as being a nasty and dirty creature that isn't fit to live- while no one thinks of a butterfly in the same manner.   Which reminds me of a quote from the book Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis.  The story is told from the point of view of a cockroach named Archy.

well boss did it
ever strike you that a
hen regrets it just as
much when they wring her
neck as an oriole but
nobody has any
sympathy for a hen because
she is not beautiful
while every one gets
sentimental over the
oriole and says how
shocking to kill the
lovely thing this thought
comes to my mind
because of the earnest
endeavor of a
gentleman to squash me
yesterday afternoon when i
was riding up in the
elevator if i had been a
butterfly he would have
said how did that
beautiful thing happen to
find its way into
these grimy city streets do
not harm the splendid
creature but let it
fly back to its rural
haunts again beauty always
gets the best of
it be beautiful boss
a thing of beauty is a
joy forever
be handsome boss
and let who will be clever is
the sad advice
of your ugly little friend


Eve said...

It's a great day when you discover something new! Another great post Daniel.
Poor Archy!