Comma butterfly

Polygonia c-album


Image of Comma butterfly

The Comma butterfly can be identified by the shape of the wings. The top of the wings is orange-brown. The underside is brown and there is a distinctive white mark on the hindwing, which gives this butterfly it's name.

My personal observations of the Comma butterfly

months seen in my garden: March to September

garden plants that attract this species:
Buddleia, Hebe, Hemp Agrimony, Lavender, Michaelmas Daisy, Muscari, Pot Marigold, Raspberries, Sedum, Verbena

Butterfly sightings 2005:

First Comma seen on 18 March
Comma on Buddleia Lochinch, 21 July
Comma, 23 and 28 July
Comma, daily 1-4 August plus 20 August
On Hemp Agrimony at Coaley Peak, 3 September
On Water Mint at Matara garden, 4 September
Comma, 17 and 20 September

Butterfly sightings 2004:

The Comma butterfly hibernates over the Winter and emerges to look for a mate in the Spring:

Comma on Muscari, 31 March
Comma resting on Pittosporum, 14 April
Comma resting on Pittosporum, 14 April (side view)

The new Comma butterflies are on the wing in the Summer:

Comma on Bramble, 1 July
Comma on Bramble, 1 July

I was admitted to hospital on 15 July for 4 months of chemotherapy and consequently, there are no more Comma images from 2004.

Top 10 memorable images of 2003:

82 digital images of Comma butterflies were saved from 2003. Here's a selection of 10.

thumbnail link Gets it's name from the white mark on the underside. Feeding on Buddleia 'White Profusion'. August 4.

There's variation in size, shape and colour of Comma wings:

thumbnail link Resting on my garden gate. August 22.

thumbnail link Resting on dogwood. August 22.

thumbnail link On Buddleia lindleyana. August 27.

thumbnail link Feeding on Buddleia 'White Profusion'. August 4.

thumbnail link The ragged edge of the wings is one of the identifying features. Side view. Resting on hedgerow bush. September 2.

thumbnail link Would you have seen it? This Comma was feeding on a fallen over-ripe plum on the ground along the path to town. September 2. Saw 8 Commas feeding on the blackberries beside that path a year earlier.

thumbnail link Feeding on Sedum spectabile. August 22.

thumbnail link Resting on dogwood. August 22.

thumbnail link Close-up. August 22.

A selection of images from previous years

1 September 2002 on Buddleia weyerana
27 March 2002 on Muscari
28 September 2001 on Verbena
15 July 2001 on Lavender
1 July 2000 on Hebe
28 September 1999 on Michaelmas Daisy
22 September 1999 on Michaelmas Daisy
14 September 1999 on Hebe


Comma butterflies are best seen feeding on Autumn-fruiting raspberries or blackberries. They can often be seen in numbers in September; the local footpath leading to the town is edged with brambles and I've counted 8 Comma butterflies along that path at once feeding on the ripe fruit.

Comma butterflies can vary considerably in physical size.

Reference Section

Size: 55mm (similar size to Small White - see list of butterflies by size)

First Generation flight period: June-July
Second Generation flight period: August - April of the following year (over-winters as butterfly)

Larval Food Plants: Hop, Nettle, Current
Wild Nectar Plants: Blackberries & other fruit, Hemp agrimony, Water mint

Family Group: Nymphalidae - see list of butterflies by family

This page last updated: 9 December, 2005