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Butterfly Gallery Title

Question Mark
Polygonia interrogationis

Question Mark butterfly

Habitat: Deciduous woodlands and forest edges
Garden Abundance: Low
Wingspan: 2.3 to 3.0in
Larval Host Plants: Elms (Ulmus spp.), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), sugarberry (C. laevigata), and false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica)
Favorite Adult Nectar Sources: Prefers rotting fruit and sap over most flower nectar

Like other anglewing butterflies, the question mark looks radically different depending on whether its wings are open or closed. The upper surfaces of the wings are handsomely marked with pink, orange and brown. By contrast, the undersides are a mosaic of drab browns. This cryptic coloration, together with the distinctive jagged wing edges, helps the resting question mark resemble a dead leaf. Common across much of the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains, the question mark is primarily a woodland species. A swift and rapid flier, it often darts out in a blur from a sunlit perch only to return to the same location moments later. Rarely visiting flowers, the question mark is strongly attracted to rotting fruit, animal dung, tree sap and moist earth.

The dark red-spined caterpillars feed on a variety of plants especially elms, hackberry and nettles (Urtica spp). The question mark overwinters as an adult.

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