Polygonia faunus
Green Comma

Family Description:
Alternate Common Names:
Green Anglewing, Faunus Anglewing.
Note: This species is really a complex comprised of several species or subspecies.
Caterpillar: The caterpillar is black, marked along the top with orange at the front and white dashed with black along the rest of the body. It is also marked with whitish and black rings between segments, and irregular orange lines on the side. The body bears both white and red spines. The black head is marked with orange and has two black horns. It reaches a maximum, full-grown length of 1 inches.
Adult: The butterfly is medium-sized to fairly large, with a wingspan of 1 to 2 inches. The edges of the wings are irregular and jagged, and there is a tail extending from each hindwing. The color varies, but generally the upperside is reddish to golden orange with a dark brown border. In newly emerged individuals, the border may have a greenish sheen. The forewing is spotted with black, and there may be smaller, yellow spots in or along the dark border. The hindwing has several black spots near the body, and a row of yellow spots in or along the dark border. Underneath is mottled brown, dark gray, and light gray, with the interior portion of the wings generally darker than the outer portion. The underside may be marked with a jagged row of greenish marks near the outer edge, and there is a white, comma-shaped mark in the center of the hindwing.

This species ranges from central Alaska south and east across most of southern Canada to Nova Scotia, extending into the U.S. through the Pacific Northwest to central California and along the Rockies; also from New England along the Appalachians to northern Georgia. It occurs through much of Idaho.

It occurs along streams, in coniferous forests, and in sunny openings.


Caterpillar: Caterpillars feed on the leaves of several tree and shrub species, including alder (Alnus spp.), birch (Betula spp.), aspen (Populus spp.), currant (Ribes spp.), and wild rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.).
Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar and may also use the liquids from mud, carrion, and dung as sources of nutrition.

There is one generation of caterpillars each summer through most of the range, but there may be two in California. Caterpillars rest on the undersides of leaves. Butterflies emerging late in the season overwinter in a physiological state called diapause. They may come out occasionally on warmer winter days, and emerge in spring to mate and lay eggs.

Males perch to wait for receptive females. Females lay pale green eggs singly on the leaves and twigs of host plants.

Idaho Status: Unprotected nongame species.
Global Rank:

G5; populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.

Ferris, C. D. and F. M. Brown. (eds.) 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. Univ. of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, USA, 442 pp.

Opler, P. A., H. Pavulaan, and R. E. Stanford. 1995. Butterflies of North America. Jamestown, North Dakota, USA: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/lepid/bflyusa/bflyusa.htm (Version 05Nov98).

Opler, P. A. and A. B.Wright. 1999. A Field Guide to the Western Butterflies.   Second Edition.  Peterson Field Guide Series. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, New York, USA, 540 pp.

Pyle, R. M. 1981. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, New York, USA, 924 pp.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, USA, 583 pp.

Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western U.S.A. Butterflies (Including Adjacent Parts of Canada and Mexico). Published by authors, Denver, Colorado, USA, 275 pp.