Tortoiseshell butterflies have jagged wing edges that are softer, less sharp, than their close relatives, the Commas. Careful study of the topside pattern helps tell them all apart; the undersides are even more similar. 'Tortoiseshell' is a term that describes a nonspecific pattern of dark, mottled colors that are also seen on tortoises. The Compton Tortoiseshell has a myriad of black, yellow, and red-orange on the tops of the wings. White, rectangular marks are near the wing tips, and also on the hindwings’ outer, upper edges. A yellow border rims the bottom of the hindwings. Underneath, the wings are tan and brown, and covered in striations. The area near the head and body is darker than by the edges. The lines are irregular and mirror some of the jagged edges. An incredibly small white ‘comma’-shaped mark may be visible on the hindwing.
Caterpillars feed on an assortment of deciduous trees like aspen, birch, and willow. This species of Tortoiseshell is found mainly in the southern provinces of Canada and New England, but it can spread into the northern U.S. during the year. Look for it in wooded areas where host trees grow.
General Characteristics Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns.
Territorial Map U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Prince Edward Is.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used for sensing.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.