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Question Mark Butterfly Caterpillar - Polygonia interrogationis

Question Mark Butterfly Caterpillar - Polygonia interrogationis
Mobile (Dog River), Mobile County, Alabama, USA
March 27, 2011

Images of this individual: tag all
Question Mark Butterfly Caterpillar - Polygonia interrogationis Question Mark Butterfly Pupa - Polygonia interrogationis Question Mark Butterfly - Polygonia interrogationis

Moved from ID Request.

Makes us think of the Question Mark

but it may be one of the other Polygonia.

Looks Good
Only I have never seen any Polygonia in my yard. The closest relative would be an occassional Red Admiral in the spring and it is not one of their cats. I found it beneath a Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumila).

its identity is either a Question Mark, or a question mark...

I think the reason I haven't seen any is I don't look for them anymore. After a few years of butterflies & dragonflies, I discovered Bug Guide, moths, leafhoppers, barklice and more. In nearly three years, I've already photographed more species of moths than birds, butterflies & dragonflies put together. I'll keep an eye out for ?'s.

Question Mark
Good one, Chuck! You make me smile :)
I agree with J&J that it's a Question Mark caterpillar. Given your location, the two best bets are Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) or Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)
Both species are commonly found on elms.
Quoting Wagner: "Head of Question Mark has proportionately shorter and sparser spines than Eastern Comma; many Question Marks have reddish brown head capsule, while that of the Eastern Comma is more often black. Central shafts of dorsal scoli in Question Mark usually orange; those of Eastern Comma more often pale and with proportionately thicker bases."

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