Prince William Conservation Alliance
Prince William Conservation Alliance PWCA Calendar Blog Resources Support PWCA
Question Mark Butterfly
Question Mark Question Mark Question Mark Butterfly  

Question Mark

Photos: Kim Hosen
Above & lower left, Merrimac Farm, March 2009
Lower center & right, Merrimac Farm Stone House pourch, July 2008
Bottom left, Suburban backyard, Woodbridge, VA; June 2013
Question Mark
Polygonia interrogationis
Wingspan: 2 1/4 to 3 inches

This orangish-brown or brownish-black butterfly, often mistaken for a dead leaf, has sharp-angled wing borders and a white "question mark" on the hindwing.

Most active in early morning and late afternoon, Question Marks frequent woodland openings, the edges of deciduous forests and stream banks.

Males perch on tree trunks or on the ground. They fly after intruders within their territory, usually returning to the same perch. Rarely seen on flowers, Question Marks feed on rotting fruit, tree sap, dung, carrion and mud.

Look for these unique butterflies from early June through September. Some will overwinter here and others migrate south in the fall.

Question Marks lay single pale green eggs on the underside of young hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) tree leaves and many types of nettles (Urticaceae).