|scientific name Polygonia satyrus |
common name Satyr Comma
In woodlands throughout the province, particularly in the boreal and parkland regions.
One brood per year, appearing in early spring (April to May) and again in August to October.
Satyr Commas have a striped (in males) or evenly-coloured (females) brown underside rather than two-toned grey like the other Polygonia species (except for the Question Mark, which is larger and has a violet upperside wing border). Satyrs are sexually dimorphic, and the underside of the female has a more monotone, smooth brown underside than the male.
The eggs are whitish and have 10 to 12 vertical ribs. Mature larvae have a black, bilobed head with each lobe bearing a spine; the body is black with greenish white lines and black chevron marks along the dorsum, and is covered in branched spines (Scott 1986, Layberry et al. 1998). The pupa is tan-coloured with a sivler patch below the thorax (Scott 1986). Adults live longer than most other butterflies since they hibernate; eggs are laid in the spring by overwintered females, and the next generation is on the wing by late summer. One of the first butterflies to appear in spring, becoming active in April, occasionally earlier with warm weather spells.
The larvae have only been found on stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) in Canada (Layberry et al. 1998).
Found throughout the boreal region of Canada from the central Yukon and southern Northwest territories east and south New England. South in the western US to New Mexico and California (Layberry et al. 1998, Opler 1999).
Joe Belicek (2014-03-13)
Polygonia satyrus (W. H. Edwards, 1869)
A confirmation of an additional larval food plant: In my garden in the west Edmonton, I have several clumps of a climbing perennial vine (bine), Humulus lupulus (Family Cannabaceae), Common Hops.
The plants were purchased. Now, several years in a row, females of P. satyrus laid dozens of eggs on the leaves of these plants. The larvae readily feed on hops & after pupation on the nearby cinder blocks, the adults emerged in perfect condition. It should be noted that the larvae feeding on hops do not construct the tubular shelters, typical of larvae P. satyrus feeding on nettles (Urtica spp.). The inability to construct the hiding shelter is undoubtedly caused by the difference in the shape and size of the leaf. The value of having the hiding shelter, in this case, the lack of it - was immediately obvious, when birds (American Robin) discovered the colony of larvae. The birds were picking of the larvae, carrying them away in their beaks, to feed their young.
At this point, I placed the larvae in a cage, so the birds could not get at them. In 1974, I found several plants of hops growing in a highway ditch near Revelstoke, B.C. These plants were growing horizontally, not having the support needed for climbing. It is safe to assume that the plants were there accidentally introduced. Upon close examination of the plants, I found several larvae of P. satyrus, feeding on hops, & again without shelters. Based on these observations, it appears that Humulus lupulus is an acceptable, alternative larval food plant for P. satyrus. However the mortality of the larvae feeding on hops is higher due to the increased incidence of predation by birds.
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