Friday, July 6, 2012

A Butterfly That Looks Like A Dead Leaf

I'm amazed how much this butterfly looks like a dead leaf.  The picture below shows the camouflaged butterfly blending in with dead leaves.
A well disguised butterfly, eh?
This is the Question Mark Butterfly, Polygonia interrogationis.  It gets its name from the silver mark and dot on its hind wing.
   Notice how this butterfly acts like it only has four legs... that's typical of the brush-footed butterflies (family Nymphalidae)... the other pair are very short and are held up under the head
 Recently, a Question Mark Butterfly was fluttering around some elm saplings at the edge of our yard.  I could tell she was laying eggs by her purposeful actions.  She would fly here and there, pausing briefly on some vegetation types and stay longer on the elm leaves.  Those repeated, brief pauses make good photo ops, so I went for the camera.
Well, here she is... the  Question Mark Butterfly laying eggs on an elm leaf.

 Here is a picture of a butterfly egg... the very one she deposited as I was taking the photo above.

That was about two weeks ago. Those butterfly eggs have already hatched, but for some reason, I haven't seen any caterpillars.
 Today, another Question Mark was laying eggs on the elm leaves.
Not much bigger than a speck.
 Maybe I'll get to photograph these hatchling caterpillars... in a week, or two.


  1. Oh wow does she blend in well Dana. I had to look a second time at the first photo, after seeing the second, as I could not find her at first.

    Another fascinating post.

  2. Just found one of these on a watermelon slice I put out for the butterflies. Had to Google it to see what it was. Thank you for posting.

  3. Anonymous8/06/2012

    Found one in our backyard in Illinois. Looks just like your picture! Thanks.

  4. Although we only got a very brief look at it before it flew off, my wife and I think this is the butterfly we saw on our back porch in Beverly, MA.

    1. Alan,
      This summer a number of Question Mark Butterflies visited our screened-in porch. Some were on the outside of the screens while others somehow managed to end up on the inside. Most of them didn't stay still very long, just like your butterfly, but a couple of them were calm enough to photograph.