Polygonia oreas
Oreas Comma

Family Description:
Alternate Common Name:
Oreas Anglewing.
Note: Some authors consider this species to be a subspecies of Polygonia progne, the Gray Comma.
Caterpillar: The caterpillar is generally dark brown, marked along the top with yellowish orange at the front fading to yellow along the back. There are black "v"-shaped marks and brownish dots on the back. It is also marked with white and black rings between segments, and irregular orange and yellow lines on the side. The body bears spines of different colors – orange, yellow, and black. The black head is marked with orange and has two black horns.
Adult: This butterfly has a wingspan of about 1 5/8 to 2 inches. The wings are ragged along the edges and there is a tail extending from the hindwing. The upperside is dark orange with large black spots and a dark, wide border. There is a row of "<"-shaped, yellowish spots edging the border. Underneath may be either very dark gray and striated (California population), or blotchy and two-toned with black and brown, or gray and brown (northwestern population). The underside of the hindwing has a white, comma-shaped mark near the center.

This species ranges from southern British Columbia, south through the Pacific Northwest, and along the coast of California; and from parts of Idaho and western Montana to Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.

It occurs in forests, mountain meadows, canyons, and along streams.


Caterpillar: Caterpillars feed primarily on the leaves of gooseberry and currants (Ribes spp.).
Adult: Butterflies feed on the liquids from sap, fruit, and mud, and only occasionally on flower nectar.

There is typically one generation of caterpillars each summer. Caterpillars rest on stems or the undersides of leaves, in a bent position. Butterflies emerge from chrysalises mid- to late summer, feed, then overwinter in a physiological state called diapause until spring. In early spring, they emerge to mate and lay eggs. The northwestern variety is uncommon.

Males perch to wait for receptive females. Females lay eggs singly on the leaves 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.