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Polygonia faunus (Edwards, 1862)

Green Comma

Federal Protection: No US federal protection

State Protection: No Georgia state protection

Global Rank: G5

State Rank: S3

SWAP High Priority Species (SGCN): Yes

Element Occurrences (EOs) in Georgia: 2

Habitat Summary for element in Georgia: Hardwoods, higher elevations


Description

This is a member of the anglewing genus Polygonia.  It has the typical black spots on an orange background for the genus.  What distinguishes the Green Comma from other members of the genus is the deeply sinuate edges on the wings, and the green lunules (hence the name) in the subterminal area on the underside of both wings (especially the hindwings).  These are subtle, but if you enlarge the image below of the underside they are clearly visible.  Also clearly visible is the whitish comma-shaped mark on the underside of the hindwing, which explains the "Comma" part of the name of this species.

Similar Species

Two other Polygonia species can be found together with P. faunus -- the Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) and the Comma (Polygonia comma).  The Question Mark is usually a bit bigger, with much more even edges to the wings.  Additionally the Question Mark has an extra dot under the comma-shaped mark on the underside of the hindwings, hence the name "Question Mark".  The Comma is similar in size to the Green Comma, with similar edges to the wings and the comma-shaped mark, but the Comma does not have the green lunules on the underside of the hindwings.

Habitat

Forested habitats in the mountains.  They often visit damp spots along roads and in clearings to imbibe water and salts from the soil.

Diet

Life History

Survey Recommendations

Range

This is a widespread butterfly in the U.S., with populations in the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada, and also across the mountainous habitats in the west.  It is absent from the plain states and provinces.  The subspecies smythi, however, is restricted to the southern Appalachians and is the representative in the state of Georgia.  In this state, it is found in most of the mountainous counties (six or so) in very northern and very northeastern Georgia.

Threats

Georgia Conservation Status

Conservation Management Recommendations

References

Authors of Account

Date Compiled or Updated

Green Comma (Polygonia faunus smythi), upperside and underside, Cooper's Creek Recreational Area, Union County, Georgia, June, 2001. Photo by James K. Adams, all rights reserved.
Green Comma (Polygonia faunus smythi), Cooper's Creek Recreational Area, Union County, Georgia, June, 2001. Photo by James K. Adams, all rights reserved.