|scientific name Polygonia gracilis gracilis |
common name Hoary Comma
A species of foothills and boreal forests, particularly moist coniferous forest openings.
One brood per year, appearing in early spring (April to May) and again in August to October.
The dark, two-toned underside, with a dark basal half and lighter outer half, is most similar to the Oreas and Grey Commas (P. oreas and P. progne). In gracilis, the submarginal spots on the hindwing upperside are diffuse, not well-defined and surrounded by a dark area as in progne. Gracilis also has a more 'contrasty' underside than progne. In the foothills south of the Crowsnest Pass, gracilis can be tricky to separate from the Oreas Comma; The Hoary has wing fringes that are more lobed than angulate, and lacks the patches of white wing fringes. It has a grey rather than grey-brown underside.
Subspecies zephyrus occurs in at least parts of Alberta, which is by some considered to be a species separate from gracilis (Guppy & Shepard 2001). Layberry et al. (1998) and Scott (1986) treat them as one species, and Norbert Kondla has also appraised this situation with similar conclusions. Some Alberta populations do not look like any described subspecies (Layberry et al. 1998, Kondla pers. com.).
The mature larvae are predominantly black with branched spines and black heads, with the back of the front half reddish (Guppy & Shepard 2001). The dorsum of the back half is white. Pupae can be either light or dark brown, possibly reflecting the sex of the individual, with females being dark (Guppy & Shepard 2001). Like other commas, adults emerge in late summer, are active until fall, then enter hibernation in sheltered areas such as hollow logs and buildings. Adults emerge from hibernation in spring, when they mate and reproduce (Guppy & Shepard 2001).
Not of concern.
The larvae feed on currants, gooseberries (Ribes spp.) and white rhododendron (Rhododendron albiflorum) in BC (Guppy & Shepard 2001).
Ranges from the southeastern Yukon south and east through the boreal region to Newfoundland and New England (Layberry et al. 1998), south in the West to New Mexico and California (Opler 1999).
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