© Peter J. Bryant.

Satyr Comma

Polygonia satyrus

Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae

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© Peter J. Bryant.

Trail to Azalea Glen, Cuyamaca, San Diego County, CA. 7/9/11. © Diane Brodeur.

Characteristics: The tawny color and scalloped wings make this butterfly easily distinguishable from other local species. Forewing length: 25-28 mm.

Habitats, Behavior: A rather swift flyer, but rarely flies any great distance before landing. The species is associated with moist riparian woodland plant communities.

Distribution: Old records indicate that the Satyr was much more common in earlier days, especially in the valley washes. Recent records are from Silverado and Trabuco Canyons in the Santa Ana Mountains, and Santa Ana Canyon (Featherly Park). Ron Vanderhoff captured satyrus in La Habra Heights, l mile N of Whittier Blvd. on Hacienda Blvd. This is near the Orange County line (Date: 6-IX-1974).

Flight Period: Emmel and Emmel (1973) summarize this as follows: "The species hibernates in the adult stage, and overwintering adults begin flying in February or March continuing into April. Progeny from eggs laid by this brood emerge in June, July and August. There is occasionally a third brood from eggs laid by individuals emerging in early summer."

Larval Foodplant: Common Nettle, Urtica holosericea. This plant is native to Europe and occurs occasionally in undisturbed moist places in Orange County (Boughey, 1968).

Other Remarks: Erich Walter reports that the Satyr Butterfly was once relatively common in the Carbon Canyon wash near his father's ranch (near the present-day intersection of Magnolia and Orangethorpe Avenues). These flatland washes were relatively open and moist and thus probably supported large stands of nettle. Little suitable habitat for nettles presently exists in Orange County. The valley washes are now artificially channeled, covered, or gone.

From Orsak, L. J. (1977). The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Center for Pathobiology Miscellaneous Publication #3. University of California Press, New York. 349pp.

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