insects and arachnids

Look Comma Again

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The little Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) butterfly I mentioned the other day took up residence on our porch under Sherman, our potted solstice shrubbery who was sitting there waiting to be planted. Though Sherman was in a pretty awkward spot for us, I decided to leave him where he was, until the Comma moved out.

However something else moved in — for the kill — before the Comma was finished hibernating. The other day I found just its wings left behind, its body becoming springtime sustenance for a different critter. I’m looking at you, chipmunks.

The wings being separated from its body was a perfect time to confirm the ID. An “Eastern Comma” is called that because of a white mark on the middle of its hindwing. Though the wing is quite tattered, you can see it in the photo below: the small white-ish “comma” mark in the centre of the image.

It was also a perfect time to try out a new-to-me toy. A literal toy in fact — a vintage children’s microscope. I had bought it a few months back from Weekender’s Vintage, a vintage seller in Warkworth, but had not yet taken it for a spin. The microscope was missing one magnification and a light, but was also sturdy and well-made, and a steal for what the lovely lady was asking for it. Two magnificatons is still lots more than none, and for a gal who is rarely far from her headlamp, supplying a replacement light is no problem.

There are some problems that can’t be fixed by a headlamp, but not many.

The image below is what we see through our franken-scope: the beautiful layered scales that make up a butterfly’s wing. Though they have a reputation of being delicate, and in many ways they are, a decent argument could be made that butterflies and moths — these scale-winged critters — are miniature modern day dragons.

Some butterflies, like the Eastern Comma and the Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), are so tough they don’t even leave Canada over winter. They just tuck themselves under a bit of bark or in a crevice and wait it out. So the next time you feel an Ontario winter is too long or too cold for you, just think — are you as tough as a butterfly?

I added the flying butterflies in post. But the rest is real. 🙂