Polygonia satyrus
Satyr Comma

Family Description:
Alternate Common Names:
Satyr Anglewing, Golden Anglewing.
Caterpillar: The caterpillar is black and marked on the side with yellow and orange. There are white, greenish white, or yellow "v"-shaped marks on the back, and white to yellowish branched spines. The head is black marked with white, and has two black horns.
Adult: The butterfly is medium-sized to fairly large, with a wingspan of 1 to 2 inches. It has irregular wing edges, and a short tail extending form the hindwing. The upperside is bright to golden orange with large black spots. The forewing has a darker border, while the hindwing has a faint border of brownish bars. Underneath is light to golden brown, mottled and striated. The underside may be marked with a faint row of tiny dark dots near the outer edge, and there is a whitish, comma-shaped mark near the center of the hindwing.

This species ranges from northern British Columbia south and east across southern Canada to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. In the U.S., it ranges from the Pacific Northwest south to southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico, extending east as far as western Montana, western South Dakota, and central Colorado. It occurs through much of Idaho.


It occurs in wooded canyons and valleys and along streams and forests.


Caterpillar: Caterpillars feed on the leaves of stinging nettles (Urtica spp.).
Adult: Butterflies use flower nectar, tree sap, and liquids from mud for food.


There are generally one to two generations of caterpillars each summer, and sometimes three along the Pacific coast. Caterpillars construct shelters by tying the edges of leaves together with silk. Butterflies feed through the fall, then overwinter in a physiological state called diapause. They emerge in the spring to mate and lay eggs, and may be seen as early as February on occasion.


Males perch to wait for receptive females. Females lay pale green eggs, singly or in small stacks or groups, on the undersides of 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.