Identification: Orange with dark marks. Summer form immigrates to Ontario in mid-April and has dark hind wings outlined in silver. This form is present all season until September. The winter form has orange hind wings and represents the last brood or generation that migrates south.
Similar Species: Eastern Comma is smaller and has only three transverse spots in the mid upperside of the forewing, whereas the Question Mark has the three spots plus a dash.
Size: 45 to 68 mm wingspan. Larva to 4.5cm long.
Habitat: Old woods with open areas, meadows, edges of farmer fields, parks.
Food: Rotting fruit, tree sap, dung, carrion. Also flowers: Purple Coneflower, Oregano (herb) Butterfly Bush, Honeysuckle, Dogwood, Viburnum, fruit tree blossoms, Virgin’s Bower, Tall Boneset.
Larvae feed on American elm Ulmus americanus, Hackberry Celtis, Japanese Hop Humulus japonicus (exotic), Nettles Urtica, and False Nettle Boehmeria cylindrica.
Flight Time: In spring immigrants re-colonize in mid-April, leaving in September/October.
Life Cycle: Eggs are bright green, keg-shaped and ribbed. Eggs laid in mid-April and again mid to late July. Caterpillars feeding singly on the underside of leaves. Two generations per year, 2nd generation has light colored hind wings (winter form) and migrates south, with strays found as far south as Cuba.
Comments: Essex County north to Lake Superior.