The Comma

One may think the Comma (Polygonia c-album) looks a bit strange. It’s the shape if its wings that differentiates this butterfly from other closely related species like the Small Tortoiseshell and the European Peacock.

The Comma is a pretty common butterfly, perhaps not as common as its relatives listed above though. Flying in two generations this species can be spotted either in spring or after midsummer. Here are some shots from season 2014. In summer 2015 I focused on photographing other species. Unfortunately, I was not lucky finding any caterpillars and will continue my hunt early summer 2016.

Setting up the butterfly bar

2

Flowers are not the only option for attracting butterflies to your garden. Another trick is setting up a butterfly bar. Here’s a recipe and some tips on how to get started.

Ingredients
  • Cheap red wine
  • Brown sugar

You’ll also need a jar (e.g. a yoghurt glass), some string and a sponge. Depending on your imagination, you’ll perhaps need some other stuff as well.

Setup
Butterfly bar in garden to attract butterflies

Butterfly bar in garden to attract butterflies

Start by creating the mixture. Take some of the red wine and add brown sugar as much as the wine can take. You may heat up the wine in a microwave oven or on a plate so the sugar dissolves easier. Note: Make sure the alcohol does not evaporate since it’s a feast for butterflies providing them with lots of energy.

Feel free to add syrup or honey to the mixture (I got my results with plain brown sugar though). Adding vinegar will help you to get rid of flies if you’re annoyed by them visiting your bar.

Cut the sponge into small stripes (see photo). Place the stripes in the jar filled with the mixture. Use the string to place the jar hanging on a hook or e.g. branch on a tree in your garden. Personally, I’m using a spoon once daily to fresh-up the mixture and make sure the sponge stripes are properly soaked in the mixture.

Make sure to place the jar on a hot sunny spot in your garden (or why not balcony). Add some red wine every couple days to make sure the jar is full until its limit. That’s all. Have fun waiting for visitors.

Results

It took a moment to attract the first individuals. But once the word spreads (or probably more the odour), we ended up having some buzz during our happy hour (see photos).

I wasn’t aware there’s this many Commas (Polygonia c-album) around. And getting a Scarce Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis xanthomelas) directly into our garden was a nice surprise, as well. Let’s see who’ll step by next.

The Comma

The other day I didn’t quite get a shot on the only Comma (Polygonia c-album) I sighted. Therefor, I decided to set this species as my next target and get some proper footage.

Interestingly, it turned out to be a lucky day since I found several individuals. Butterflies tend to wake up during spring in a certain sequence. Probably the first species are the Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) and the Common Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), followed by the European Peacock (Inachis io) and the Moarning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa). Then there comes the Comma, which appears generally a couple days later after the previously named species. Next, the Comma will be followed by the Map (Araschnia levana).

This post is dedicated to the Comma, even though while writing I’m already looking forward to sighting the first Map this spring. Furthermore, the Comma is also one of my season targets for raising caterpillars. I once found one ages ago at my grand mother’s place. Back then, I didn’t get the chance to raising it to a butterfly.

The individuals I photographed all lost pretty much in color. I’m looking forward to having some fresh ones hatching during summer.

Photos

Easter weekend, day 2

I’ve been lucky so far this spring and I caught pretty much every object of interest on a decent photo. However, this is not how it works in a lepidopterist’s life. Often you may spot a rare species which just flies by and disappears. In fact, the same happens with common species as well.

So it came that the first Comma (Polygonia c-album), which I spotted right at the beginning of my trip, did not have any intention to start posing. Right after I was able to identify it, yet another Scarce Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis xanthomelas) was driving it off its territory. All I got was one shot that wasn’t properly focused (see below).

Nevertheless, previously I didn’t get a good shot at the European Peacock (Inachis io). This time, I sighted three individuals and also got better results.

Another lesson I had to learn was that hay fever may lead to perspiration, and perspiration to dehydration. Spending two hours in the greenery is pretty physical, and it took me quite some time to recover afterwards.

All in all, another good day out. And the amount of butterflies being active these days at Espoo Central Park (Finland) is amazing. It’s only a couple species, but it’s great to get a good chance to get some sightings. While I’m looking forward to spotting more species this weekend I’m also exploring a really nice biotope. An area with abandoned houses turns out to be a true oasis. Only a couple more weeks and the same biotope will provide the caterpillars of all the species observed lately.

Photos