27 August, 2011

Reflections on a Question: Polygonia interrogationis, the Question Mark Butterfly

I was working on my computer at the kitchen table yesterday and a saw a small shadow appear on the outside of the window.  Just a few weeks ago I had seen a butterfly on that window, so I grabbed my camera and went to the sunroom which has a view of the kitchen window.  It was a butterfly sitting on the windowglass.  I was able to open the window in the sunroom to have an unobstructed view of the butterfly and took the following pictures of a beautiful Polygonia interrogationis, the Question Mark butterfly.  I rotated the images so the butterfly seems to be oriented horizontally, when it was actually going down the window, head first.  I took all of the photos showing the beautiful reflection off the windowglass.  The window blinds provide the diagonal stripes in the reflection, giving the photos a geometric rakishness.  ;-)
Here, you can see the white question mark from which the butterfly gets its name on the  underside of the hindwing.
The orange color of the hind wing indicates that this is a winter form of the question mark that will stay here all winter and then breed in the spring.  The summer form has much darker hindwings.
There is a trail of lick marks on the glass visible between the bottom edge of the rear wing and its reflection.
You can see the violet tail tips and outer margin of forewing.
The underside of the wings can be seen in the reflection.
Look at how the tip of the proboscis is flattened against the windowglass.
Upon reflection, the question is clear.
Wonder what the answer is...
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  1. We have a almost identical butterfly here in the UK, Wilma. But ours is called the Comma.

  2. A little beauty Wilma.
    Reminded me of our Comma; like Dean says, almost identical.

  3. If your trying to confuse me Wilma, its working.{:)
    Great shots.

  4. Dean - we have a couple of commas too, the eastern comma (P. comma)and the grey comma (P. progne). The differences are quite subtle - to me anyway!

    Keith - they are quite lovely, aren't they?

    Roy - thanks. I didn't set out to confuse, that was only a bonus by-product! ;-)


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