Thursday, August 25, 2011

Question Mark Butterly

Question mark Butterflies are one of the most commonly seen butterflies in the Midwest. They resemble a few other butterflies also found in their range, one being the Comma and the other the Gray Comma. To distinguish them from one another look for the tell-tale marking on the underside of their hindwing. The Question mark has (?) and the Comma has a (,).

On the above picture the silvery-white question mark is visible. These butterflies often occur in large numbers and may be found nectaring at flowers as a last resort. They instead prefer to glean moisture and nutrients from piles of dung, rotting fruit, sap, and carrion as the one pictured here is doing. Cow manure seems to be a favorite of theirs.

The caterpillars are spiny colorful alien-looking little munchers that feast on elm trees. They will also feed on nettle, false nettle, Japanese hop and hackberry. Last year proved to be a good year for them as I found dozens of them eating my young elm trees. This year I've only found a handful. Like many insects they seem to cycle up and down from season to season.

1 comment:

  1. I understand this family can also go into a dormacy if food is scarce or weather is bad.They hide in leaves. I have seen them come out when you never see any other butterflies.Trimming out a bunch of elms after a bad storm brought lots around to sample the sap.