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  • Question Mark Butterfly - (Polygonia interrogationis)

    Question Mark Butterfly - (Polygonia interrogationis)

    The silvery white dot and curved line on the underside of the hindwing resemble the punctuation mark the Question Mark Butterfly is named after.

    Staff Writer (9/11/2017): The top side (upperside) of the Question Mark is orange and black with mostly black hindwings. Its underside coloration is quite different: dark brown and gray. The Question Mark could look like two separate butterflies if seen with its wings up and then its wings down. The edges of its wings are elegantly curved sculpted with the hindwing tips ending in short tails.

    Males perch on branches, surveying their territory and scouting for females. They will chase away intruders like other insects and sometimes small birds. Up until the end of May, Females lay fertilized eggs on leaves that are near a host plant, forcing newly hatched larvae to find their own host plant. Caterpillars feed on the leaves of elm trees, hackberry, nettles and false nettles. Their bodies are a mix of orange, red, black and white speckles depending on maturity. All are covered in fierce looking spikes that branch out with more spikes, resembling the spines of a barrel cactus. These spines and spikes change color as the caterpillar changes color: reddish body with red-orange spikes, black and yellow body with yellow spikes. Adults prefer drinking from rotting fruit, sap, dung and carrion juices, but will settle for flower nectar if these more pungent food sources are not available.

    Some adults will migrate south to avoid cold winters, others hibernate in shelters up north. They can be found in cities, parks, suburbs, gardens, and meadows.

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    Details of the:
    Question Mark Butterfly

    Category: Butterfly or Moth
    Common name: Question Mark Butterfly
    Scientific Name: Polygonia interrogationis

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Insecta
         Order: Lepidoptera
          Family: Nymphalidae
           Genus: Polygonia
            Species: interrogationis

    Size (Adult, Length): 52mm to 76mm (2.05in to 2.99in)

    Identifying Colors: orange, black, white, brown, ivory

    Additional Descriptors: flying, tails, points

    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Arizona; Arkansas; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska;New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; British Columbia; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Mexico

    * Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.

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