New Jersey Butterfly Club

A chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA)

Gray Comma

Polygonia progne

Identification: Small—1.75” (a little smaller than Eastern Comma). Wing margins are irregular, with FW hooked at tip and HW tailed. Above: FW orange with dark spots, generally smaller than those of Eastern Comma; outer spot noticeably small, sometimes nearly absent. In fall/spring brood, HW orange with dark margin, bordered by small yellow spots (similar light form of Eastern has a black spot in center of HW that Gray lacks). In summer brood, HW is roughly half orange and half dark (Eastern is either all orange or all dark), lacks the central dark spot seen in light form of Eastern, and usually has submarginal yellow dots that are lacking or inconspicuous in the dark form of Eastern. Below: FW and HW very finely striated gray and brown, with outer half of FW frosted. Silver mark in center of HW is noticeably thinner than in Eastern, more "L"-shaped, and tapers at both ends.

NJ Status and Distribution: Primarily a northern species that is very rare in NJ. Post-2000 records are from Wawayanda SP, Sussex County, in 2003 and 2004; and Somerset County Environmental Education Center (near Great Swamp NWR), in 2009. In 2013 a colony was discovered at Horseshoe Bend Park in Kingwood Twp., Hunterdon County, that has persisted, and other individuals have been observed elsewhere in that general vicinity.

NJ Range Map-Gray Comma

Habitat: Woodlands with the food plant.

Flight Period: 2 broods, fall/spring (appearing Sept.-Oct. and again March-April), and summer (July-early August). Extreme dates: 2/27-9/10.

Caterpillar Food Plants: Gooseberries (Ribes); in NJ appears to use only Missouri Gooseberry (R. missouriense).

Overwintering Stage: Adult.

Good Locations: Most often reported from Horseshoe Bend Park, but also seen at Muddy Run and Copper Creek preserves, all in Kingwood Twp., Hunterdon Co.

Comments: Eastern Comma, Gray Comma, and Question Mark are informally called “anglewings,” referring to the irregular wing margins.

Gray Comma

Light form (fall/spring brood),Horseshoe Bend Park, Hunterdon Co., NJ, 4/12/15.

Gray Comma

Dark form (summer brood),Horseshoe Bend Park, Hunterdon Co., NJ, 7/29/13.

Gray Comma

Horseshoe Bend Park, Hunterdon Co., NJ, 7/29/13.

Gray Comma

Hunterdon Co., NJ, 7/21/13.

Gray Comma caterpillar

Early-instar caterpillar of Gray Comma on gooseberry (currant).


Gooseberry (Ribes) which is the main genus of food plant for Gray Comma.