Question Mark or Eastern Comma?

sitali301(6)June 28, 2008

I found this guy (gal?) hanging out on my fence and he/she was very cooperative about pics! It seems to be either a Question Mark or Eastern Comma, but I can't positively identify it. Some pics I look at, seem to indicate QM and some look like it could be a Comma.

Anyone able to positively identify it? Thanks!

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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Beautiful pictures of a question mark!
They've gone missing around here this year - can you send yours down? :)

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 11:16AM
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Now I have a question. How do you tell a Question Mark from a Comma?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 11:50PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Cathy, QMs have a dash near their forewing tip, topside, that commas lack. I checked the first picture against the one in my field guide, and it did have the dash, so I know it's a question mark. Eastern commas are also smaller than QMs, but you can't tell that in a picture - I've heard somewhere that they're also a little differently colored, but I've never seen one, and I can't remember what the differences were.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 8:27AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)


I always look for the mark on the underside. You have a definite question mark. I know that there are some QMs that don't have the point below to finish the punctuation mark, but yours definitely has both. After establishing which punctuation mark is on the underside, I look at the top forewing for the line of dots or dashes that extend down from the two large spots on the upper margin of forewing. The QM has four of these with the first one starting in between the two largest marks. The Comma has a series of 3 and they are below the wing margin marks. Not really much difference!


    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 9:24AM
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Thanks so much! That was very educational! I was happy to see this guy as I don't see a tremendously wide variety of butterflies around here. This was the first QM I've seen, and it was a thrill!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 8:51AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

QMs are a favorite of mine. They were the third butterfly I raised from cats. I love the chrysalides with their golden dots. Last year I had 4 line up on a twig.

So, if you find some caterpillars on an elm seedling, chances are they'll be QMs. They are easy to raise.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 9:22AM
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Sherry & Sandy, Thanks so much for pointing out the difference between the two. I'd like to say that I'll absolutely remember the difference, and I think I will, but rather than trust my memory, I think I'll copy and paste your replies into a file if you don't mind and then that way if I see either one of those sometime (this one wasn't mine but when I saw this thread I wanted to find out how to tell a Question Mark from a Comma) hopefully I'll be able to know which one it is. I don't know if I'd be able to identify them just from looking at them outside. It seems like a lot of times I need to take a picture of something and look at the picture on the computer to know what kind of butterfly I saw outside. If I have any elm trees here, I could fall over one and not know what it is, but at least a tree won't move and if I have to ID it, I can always go back to it and look at it and compare it to a picture in a book. :)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 4:46PM
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