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by Jacki
(Grand Forks, B.C. Canada)


Comma butterflies are amongst the brightest, but they’re also the most elusive, rarely stopping in one spot for long, and jumping nervously at any movement of the photographer.

Here are a couple of the flighty little butterflies that stopped for a sip of compost tea; compost was put on the garden bed then watered in preparation for a new crop, and skippers and commas showed up for lunch.

They love the salts and sugars of compost, rotting fruit or manure, and this is where you can get a picture of them, satiated and full.

The ‘comma’ of their name refers to the silver little comma – yes, that’s right, the punctuation mark (,)- on the underside of their wings. Unlike the brightly coloured top, the bottom of the wings makes them blend in to leaf litter or soil.

I’ve been looking right at them, but their mimicry is so effective that I can’t see them until they startle and flutter away.

Late summer into early fall is the time to see these flashy butterflies. They lay their eggs on hops (which can become defoliated by the caterpillars, earning them a bad name), nettles, false nettles and elm trees.

Similar to the Question Mark, which is almost identical in colouration, but the bottom side of the wings bears a question mark. (?)