Butterflies of Europe
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - NYMPHALINI
genus Polygonia comprises 14 species,
found variously in North America, Europe, temperate Asia and north
Africa. As a genus they are instantly recognisable by their
characteristic ragged wing shape. Most share a similar upperside
pattern of blackish spots on a golden-brown ground colour. On the
undersides they are cryptically marked to resemble dead leaves or
tree bark, and have a central white or silvery mark on the hindwing
in the shape of a comma, question mark or chevron.
There are only 2
species which occur in Europe - the
Polygonia c-album, and the Southern Comma
P. egea. The former is more heavily
marked, and has a darker underside bearing a distinct comma-shaped
The Southern Comma
is found in south-east France, Italy, most Mediterranean islands,
Croatia, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, and east to
Syria, Iran and north-west India.
Polygonia egea, Croatia
© Peter Bruce-Jones
species is found in hot, dry rocky areas including steep hillsides,
gorges, archaeological ruins, and rural habitats, most commonly at
altitudes between sea level and about 1000m although it has been
recorded as high as 1700m in the Atlas mountains.
There is some doubt as to whether this species produces 2 or 3
broods a year, and it is possible that it has a complex lifecycle
like c-album, in which some larvae
develop quickly while others develop very slowly, creating a
staggered emergence. Most sightings of fresh adults take place in
June or September-October. Adults flying in October enter into
hibernation at the end of the month, and awaken in February or March
of the following year.
Post-hibernation adults lay their eggs singly on the leaves of
The fully grown
larva is blackish dorsally,
with a pair of thin whitish bands between each segment, and a
peppering of tiny white dots on the back. The lower half of the
abdomen, the head, and the double-row of multi-branched spikes along
the back, are a bright rusty-orange colour.
The chrysalis is
typical of the Nymphalinae, being dull in colour but overlaid with a
subtle metallic sheen. It has a double row of short spikes along the
back, and a thoracic keel. It is suspended by the cremaster beneath
a rock or boulder, or within the crevice of an old wall.
Polygonia egea, Croatia
are territorial and adopt perching positions on rocks, dry paths or
walls which they use as outlooks from which to survey and intercept