Comptons Tortoiseshell

Nymphalis vaualbum

comptons Common names include False Comma (true comma's are in the genus Polygonia).

Wing span: 1 1/4 - 1 3/8 inches (3.2 - 3.5 cm).

Caterpillar hosts: Aspen and cottonwood (Populus), willows (Salix), gray birch (Betula populifolia), and paper birch (B. papyrifera).

Eggs are laid in groups and caterpillars feed together.

Habitat: Old brushy fields, pastures, clearings, headlands.

Pictures taken July 22, 2009.
comptons2 The picture above and to the left are of the same indiviual. This is the first time I have been able to clearly document the Comptons Tortoiseshell on Crex.

The Comptons Tortoiseshell has one white spot in each outside corner area of both the upper and hindwing visible on the upperside of the wings. These white spots will separate the Comptons Tortoiseshell from the other commas. The Milberts tortoiseshell does not have the brown spotting on the upper wings that the Compton Tortoiseshell has.

The Vanessa's (Painted and American Lady) do not have the 'tail' of the Comptons Tortoiseshell and they have multiple white spots on the upper side. From below, the Comptons Tortoiseshell is much more plain than the designs on the lower wings of the Vanassa's.

Sightings Chart

Because of flight patterns, the number of Comptons in above chart only represent the absolute confirmed sightings and not the "likely" comptons. Habits can be similar to the Red Admiral with tree perching and hiding in tree leaf foliage making clear identification difficult at some times. However, the numbers on Crex Meadows are typically small each year.
Chart Accuracy Self Rating: Under-represented but reported sightings are 100% accurate.


TaxonomyCompton Tortoiseshell -Nymphalis vau-album   
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
               Tribe:      Nymphalini
                   Genus:       Nymphalis
                      Specie:           vau-album