Gray Comma

Polygonia progne

grayComma1 2010 was a good year for all of the commas (or anglewing or playfully described as a punctuation butterfly) in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Gray comma appeared on the meadows late in the summer.

One of the anglewing butterflies, these guys can be hard to tell apart. All of the Crex punctuation butterflies are very similar when viewing top wing. Roaming around the net looking for information on the Gray comma, I came across many Eastern commas who were marked as the Gray comma and even one Green comma. For my own butterfly sightings, I see many more commas than I am able to positively ID, either because they are too worn, or they fly away before giving me an underwing view. You will often see comments on Wisconsin butterflies where a report includes "saw some punctuation butterflies but cant tell them apart".
Some Gray commas hibernate, and others winter over either as pupa or caterpillar. No definitive information on burnett county (caterpillar/pupa) has been found that I am aware of.

Some sites report sap as being a food source for the Gray comma. My experience on Crex Meadows indicates dung of several species, dead frogs, and ground minerals are attractive to these butterfly.

Wing span: 1 5/8 - 2 /12 inches (4.4 - 6.3 cm).

Caterpillar hosts: Gooseberries (Ribes) and azalea (Rhododendron).

Identification Tips

From the top view, the Gray comma is similar to the Eastern Comma on Crex Meadows at first sight.
    - No shadowspot on the top forewing like the Eastern comma (not 100% reliable).
    - Two dark brown spots on top hindwing (occasionally varies in Eastern comma).
    - The underwing checkmark is thin, pointed on each end (not hooked like the Eastern comma) and often described as "L" shaped.
The underside view of the Gray comma is unique and should not be confused with any other commas/polygonia in Wisconsin.

The Comma/Polygonia butterflies in Wisconsin are very similar and can be challenging to identify at times. Upper and lower wing shots of the same butterfly are very helpful. For Wisconsin, the most common is the Eastern Comma, followed by the Question mark. The Gray comma is the 3rd most common.

Sightings Chart

Colored squares along the x-axis indicate weeks none of this species were seen. Example May 1 - 25 show several visits over the years with no sightings of the Gray Comma.
Chart Accuracy Self Rating: Moderate. Estimate 75% of Gray Comma sightings identified. Numbers displayed are 100% correct, however there are potential Gray Comma sightings that could not be verified via photo.


TaxonomyGrey Comma-Polygonia progne   
Kingdom: Animalia Animals
Phylum: Arthropoda Arthropods
Superclass: Hexapoda Hexapods
Class: Insecta Insects
Subclass: Pterygota Winged Insects
    Order: Lepidoptera Butterflies and Moths
      Superfamily:  Papilionoidea
          Family:   Nymphalidae    Brushfooted
            Subfamily:    Nymphalinae     Anglewing
                   Genus:       Polygonia
                      Specie:           progne