11 March 2006

First butterfly picture of the year


Spring is definitely here. Today was a beautiful day, mostly sunny and warm. I had my first glimpse of a butterfly this morning. It was high above my backyard, but it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.

Early in the afternoon, I went out for a walk in Black Hill Regional Park near my house here in Germantown, Maryland. First, I saw a moth. I got all excited. But, as I was approaching it with the camera, it flew away. I grabbed my gear and climbed up a hill. At the top, I saw a butterfly, and then another one and then another one. I spent about 40 minutes photographing them. Luckily, they had no intention of leaving the area.

I am identifying it as the Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma), although I can't quite figure out the difference between the Eastern Comma and the Green Comma (Polygonia faunus). However, I note that the latter species has not been recorded from Maryland. (The checklist of Maryland butterflies is here.)

What does the adult Polygonia comma eat? There are no flowers or rotting fruits around yet. Actually, the butterflies didn't look like they were looking for food. They were either basking in the sun on the dry leaves or circling around each other.


John said...

I saw my first sulphurs this afternoon.

T. Beth said...

Nice photo! There is one apparent difference between these two species, and it can be seen at the dark brown tip of the dorsal forewing. Polygonia faunus has a cream-spotted orange band across the dark brown forewing tip, and Polygonia comma has only disconnected cream spots across the dark brown forewing tip. Your butterfly does appear to be an Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma).