The Comma is one of our most distinctive species, its butchered wings give a unique appearance that differs from any other species of butterfly in Ireland.
The comma is not a widespread species and is generally confined to the south east of Ireland (North-East also), although as its numbers are also bolstered from migrants throughout the year, it could potentially show up at any part of the country. I have seen this species in a number of habitats across the south east of Ireland, in particular coastal locations, grassland and woodland rides.
The most distinctive feature of this species (as mentioned above) is the butchered or ragged wings. Both forewings and hindwings are orange with dark brown markings. The edge of the butchered wings are light brown in colour. The underside of the species is remarkably like a leaf, mainly brown toned colours, however on fresh individuals, you can often see a metallic green colour. There is a small white “comma” or “c” shaped marking on the underside of the wing as well, which makes identification very easy.
The species could be misidentified in flight for a small tortoiseshell, however unlike the small tortoiseshell, the comma does not have any blue markings around the margins of its wings.
Cheat Sheet (TLDR Version):
Name: Comma (Polygonia c-album)
Larval Foodplant: Nettle (Urtica diocia).
Distribution: Not widespread, mainly found in the South East of the country, but has the potential to show up anywhere.
When: Generally from April to September.
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