New Jersey Butterflies

Gray Comma

Polygonia progne

Identification: 1.75" (a little smaller than Eastern Comma). Wing margins are irregular, with FW hooked at tip and HW tailed. Above: In fall/spring brood, HW has 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 "comma" 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; Somerset County Environmental Education Center (near Great Swamp NWR) in 2009; Hunterdon County, in 2013--a colony that appears to be persisting; and—way out of range—a garden in Cape May County.

NJ Range Map-Gray Comma

Habitat: Woodlands with the host 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.

Larval Food Plants: Gooseberries (Ribes).

Overwintering Stage: Adult.

Best Locations: The only reliable location is Horseshoe Bend Park, Kingwood Twp., Hunterdon Co. Also possible in Wawayanda SP and other forests in northwest NJ with large patches of the host plant.

Comments: Any observations of this species, especially with photographs, should be submitted to the NABA-North Jersey Butterfly Club. Gray Comma, Eastern Comma, and Question Mark are informally called "anglewings," referring to the irregular wing margins.

Gray Comma

Horseshoe Bend Park, Hunterdon Co., NJ, 4/12/15.

Gray Comma

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 larva

Early instar larva of Gray Comma on gooseberry (currant).


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