Polygonia progne - (Cramer, 1775)
Gray Comma
Other English Common Names: Grey Comma, gray comma
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Polygonia progne (Cramer, 1775) (TSN 188591)
French Common Names: polygone gris
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.112577
Element Code: IILEPK5100
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Butterflies and Skippers
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Nymphalidae Polygonia
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Opler, P. A., and A. D. Warren. 2002. Butterflies of North America. 2. Scientific Names List for Butterfly Species of North America, north of Mexico. C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. 79 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B02OPL01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Polygonia progne
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 14Sep2015
Global Status Last Changed: 14Sep2015
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: While this species has declined substantially, or has disappeared completely, in some southern peripheral parts of the range such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, even some parts of southeastern Canada, the Gray Comma is considered secure in most of Canada, in border states from Maine to Minnesota, and as far south as Missouri in the central USA.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4N5 (22Jan2008)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (26Aug2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Arkansas (S2S3), Connecticut (SX), Delaware (SH), Idaho (S4), Illinois (SU), Indiana (S2), Iowa (S3), Kansas (S4), Kentucky (SH), Maine (S4), Maryland (S3), Massachusetts (SU), Michigan (S4), Minnesota (S4), Missouri (S4), Montana (S2), Nebraska (S3), New Hampshire (S4), New Jersey (SNR), New York (S4), North Carolina (S1), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (SU), Pennsylvania (S4), South Dakota (SNR), Tennessee (S3?), Vermont (S5), Virginia (S4), West Virginia (S2), Wisconsin (S4), Wyoming (SNR)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S5), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (S5), Newfoundland Island (S3), Northwest Territories (S4S5), Nova Scotia (S3S4), Ontario (S5), Prince Edward Island (S2), Quebec (S4S5), Saskatchewan (S4), Yukon Territory (S3S4)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Widespread in western Canada south of tree line except along Pacific coast, through much of Ontario and southern Quebec and widespread in the Maritimes. In the USA all border states from Maine to eastern Montana and southeast through eastern Nebraska and most of Missouri. Absent or as rare strays only in Mississippi lowlands and coastal plain. Extends uncommonly to rarely in Appalachians south to North Carolina. Apparently no longer a regular resident in most of southern New England, New Jersey, or northern Pennsylvania, and rare in Ohio. It is still present from south-central Pennsylvania to north Carolina. May also occur in Alaska.

Number of Occurrences: > 300

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Unknown

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: This species declined or disappeared in much of the southeastern portion of the range in the mid 20th century. This was due in large part, or perhaps entirely, to deliberate efforts to eradicate the foodplant which is an alternate host for white pine rust fungus. However, there may also have been other factors such as parasitism of larvae, especially in the second brood, by Compsilura concinnata. Currently the Gray Comma is not believed to be threatened in most of its range despite its large decline in parts of the eastern US.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: Severe decline or disappearance in parts of eastern USA, much more stable elsewhere

Environmental Specificity: Broad. Generalist or community with all key requirements common.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Can occur in a variety of wooded habitats, but usually in hilly regions, that support substantial amounts of Ribes shrubs. It is not confined to cool northern or mountain forests but might be most common in these.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: In places where this butterfly is of conservation concern inventory might be most effective in September and October using baits such as are commonly used for moths.

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Widespread in western Canada south of tree line except along Pacific coast, through much of Ontario and southern Quebec and widespread in the Maritimes. In the USA all border states from Maine to eastern Montana and southeast through eastern Nebraska and most of Missouri. Absent or as rare strays only in Mississippi lowlands and coastal plain. Extends uncommonly to rarely in Appalachians south to North Carolina. Apparently no longer a regular resident in most of southern New England, New Jersey, or northern Pennsylvania, and rare in Ohio. It is still present from south-central Pennsylvania to north Carolina. May also occur in Alaska.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AR, CTextirpated, DE, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SD, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
DE New Castle (10003)*
IN Franklin (18047), La Porte (18091), Lake (18089), Porter (18127), Starke (18149)
KY Bell (21013)*, Harlan (21095)*, Knox (21121)*, Leslie (21131)*, Letcher (21133)*, Martin (21159)*, Perry (21193)*, Whitley (21235)*
MT Carter (30011), Custer (30017), Dawson (30021), Fallon (30025), Liberty (30051), Powder River (30075), Richland (30083), Toole (30101), Valley (30105)
NC Ashe (37009), Avery (37011), Buncombe (37021), Caldwell (37027), Clay (37043), Watauga (37189), Wilkes (37193)
NE Dawes (31045), Greeley (31077), Hamilton (31081), Merrick (31121)
NJ Camden (34007)*, Essex (34013)*, Gloucester (34015)*, Hudson (34017)*, Morris (34027)*, Passaic (34031)*, Sussex (34037)*, Union (34039)*, Warren (34041)*
PA Chester (42029)*, Crawford (42039), Erie (42049), Forest (42053), Monroe (42089)*, Somerset (42111), Susquehanna (42115), Venango (42121), Warren (42123)
WV Greenbrier (54025), Jackson (54035), Monroe (54063), Pendleton (54071), Preston (54077), Randolph (54083)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Rondout (02020007)+*, Hackensack-Passaic (02030103)+*, Sandy Hook-Staten Island (02030104)+*, Raritan (02030105)+*, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+*, Lehigh (02040106)+*, Lower Delaware (02040202)+*, Schuylkill (02040203)+*, Brandywine-Christina (02040205)+*, Upper Susquehanna (02050101)+, South Branch Potomac (02070001)+, Upper James (02080201)+
03 Upper Yadkin (03040101)+, Upper Catawba (03050101)+
04 Little Calumet-Galien (04040001)+
05 Middle Allegheny-Tionesta (05010003)+, French (05010004)+, Clarion (05010005)+, Cheat (05020004)+, Youghiogheny (05020006)+, Upper Ohio-Shade (05030202)+, Upper New (05050001)+, Greenbrier (05050003)+, Tug (05070201)+*, Whitewater (05080003)+, North Fork Kentucky (05100201)+*, Middle Fork Kentucky (05100202)+*, Upper Cumberland (05130101)+*
06 Watauga (06010103)+, Upper French Broad (06010105)+, Nolichucky (06010108)+, Upper Little Tennessee (06010202)+, Powell (06010206)+*
07 Kankakee (07120001)+, Chicago (07120003)+
10 Marias (10030203)+, Willow (10030204)+, Upper Milk (10050002)+, Sage (10050006)+, Lower Milk (10050012)+, Prarie Elk-Wolf (10060001)+, Lower Tongue (10090102)+, Lower Yellowstone-Sunday (10100001)+, Lower Yellowstone (10100004)+, O'fallon (10100005)+, Upper Little Missouri (10110201)+, Boxelder (10110202)+, Beaver (10110204)+, Upper White (10140201)+, Middle Platte-Buffalo (10200101)+, Wood (10200102)+, Middle Platte-Prairie (10200103)+, Lower North Loup (10210007)+, Upper Big Blue (10270201)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Butterfly, Nymphalidae.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: While not a regular seasonal migrant like some congeners, individuals can appear suddenly in unlikely places, even a hundred km or more out of the breeding range, such as since 2000 in Cape May and Cumberland Counties, New Jersey a state in which the last breeding populations (150 km to the north) died out by the 1950s. An isolated individual also appeared out of habitat in Connecticut in 2004.
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, FORESTED WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: In the core of its range almost any wooded or shrubby situation where currants or gooseberries grow. Southward perhaps especially limey swamps and fens in wooded areas.
Adult Food Habits: Coprophagous, Frugivore, Nectarivore
Food Comments: Larvae feed primarily on species of Ribes, especially Ribes rotundifolia where available (Allen, 1997), but have occasionally been reported on elms and other plants. Adults occasionally visit flowers but more often sip from moist soil, rotting fruit, sap, dung etc.
Phenology Comments: In most of the range there are apparently two broods. Overwintered adults oviposit in April and May in most places and produce a brood in about June or July. The offspring of this brood emerge in about August or September and overwinter. There might be three broods in the warmest parts of the US range and perhaps only one in the far north. Adults occur from the end of March into October in much of the range. In warmer parts of the range like West Virginia and southern Pennsylvania, September and October may be the best months to find adults.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Forest or Woodland Nymphalidae

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: A location where the species occurs, or has occurred, where there is potential for persistence or regular recurrence. Minimally a place where the species has been collected or verified by an expert from a diagnostic photograph and is associated with sufficient suitable habitat to support a population.
Mapping Guidance: Usually habitats will be large blocks of somewhat diverse forest or woodlands. Boundaries of such can be used for mapping. In practice occurrence definition for this group is likely to be extremely difficult in boreal or montane regions with extensive forest lands, but in most such cases these taxa will not likely be mapped. A particularly difficult case would be POLYGONIA FAUNUS SMYTHI. This one probably can at least be assumed confined to higher, cooler northern hardwoods and spruce-fir forests and openings and outcrops in them. Occurrences in this SPECS group should not be based solely on larval foodplants but must also include adult habitat, although in some cases it would be prudent to map foodplant patches. Consult habitat and foodplant comments fields for species-specific information on what constitutes suitable habitat when mapping occurrences for individual species.
Separation Barriers: Generally none or unknown. Many of the species are migratory or at least subject to large range fluctuations and such species can cross virtually any barrier including several kilometers of ocean and cities.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 20 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: If an EO is on an island such as one of the Florida Keys it is reasonable to consider each island as a separate occurrence regardless of distance and even if some movement between islands occurs. Consult habitat and foodplant comments fields for species-specific information on what constitutes suitable habitat when mapping occurrences for individual species.
For regularly recurring "populations" and probably in some other cases for several of these species the Specs for breeding Immigrant Lepidoptera may be substituted.

Separation Justification: Both distances are arbitrary but reflect the near certainty that most of these species are very mobile, many are long lived (at least in the overwintering brood), mostly somewhat to highly migratory, and that persistent populations cannot occur in small scraps of habitat. It is not really known but for most species, defensible persistent occurrences are probably hundreds to many thousands of hectares; or they may occur as metapopulations with adults moving widely between smaller breeding areas (e.g. POLYGONIA PROGNE southward).
Suitable habitat is also problematic and some judgement based on local knowledge may be needed to define it. For example the adult habitat for NYMPHALIS ANTIOPA is primarily forests at least during aestivation, hibernation, and late winter-early spring courtship and mating period but in many regions the breeding habitats are willow swamps and other shrublands or backyard shade trees. While they generally do stay in forests, taiga, woodlands, or openings in them, adults of the boreal POLYGONIA and NYMPHALIS etc. are not restricted to the vicinity of the larval foodplants. Conceptually suitability should be based on adult as well as larval habitat.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 2 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Use either 2 kilometers or the full extent of contiguous or nearly contiguous available habitat, whichever is less. These are not butterflies of small habitats. Obviously many occurrences are much greater than the roughly 1000 kilometers here defined and/or the potentially persistent occurrences is a cluster of numerous small habitats. Where these butterflies occupy vast expanses of habitat they are often landscape level species with undefinable occurrences.
Date: 12Sep2001
Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Notes: Conceptually separate non-breeding EOs, specifically hibernation or aestivation areas, would be appropriate for some of these species. However since the obvious examples are very common species such as NYMPHALIS CALIFORNICA for example around Mt. Shasta or both widespread eastern POLYGONIA for example in southern New Jersey, this issue is not addressed with these Specs. Such species are unlikely to be tracked or mapped in such places. In fact most years P. COMMA is resident in most of southern New Jersey only from about October through March. As far as known most of the boreal species and montane breeders in these genera occur essentially in the same places year round. As far as known most of the more southern taxa that are likely to be tracked do also. These Specs were written primarily for species of Polygonia and Nymphalis (senus lato) but seem applicable for ANAEA also, although for that genus habitats will seldom permit use of the 20 km distance.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 22Jan2008
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 22Jan2008
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Schweitzer, D.F.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Allen, T. J. 1997. The butterflies of West Virginia and their caterpillars. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 388 pages, color photographs.

  • Allen, T.J. 1997. The butterflies of West Virginia and their caterpillars. Pittsburgh, PA. University of Pittsburgh Press.

  • Belth, Jeffrey E. 2013. Butterflies of Indiana A Field Guide. Indiana University Press.Bloomington, IN.

  • Bess, James. 2005. A Report on the Remnant-Dependent Insects of the Coastal Zone Natural Area Remnants in Northwest Indiana. 23 pp..

  • COVELL, C.V., JR. 1999. THE BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS (LEPIDOPTERA) OF KENTUCKY: AN ANNOTATED CHECKLIST. KENTUCKY STATE NATURE PRESERVES COMMISSION SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL SERIES 6:1-220.

  • Covell, C. V., Jr. 1999. The butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) of Kentucky: An annotated checklist. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Scientific and Technical Series Number 6, Frankfort, Kentucky. 220 pp.

  • General Status 2015, Environment Canada. 2015. Manitoba butterfly species list and subnational ranks proposed by Environment Canada contractor.

  • Glassberg, J. 1999. Butterflies Through Binoculars: The East. Oxford University Press, New York, New York. 400 pp.

  • Gochfeld, M. and J. Burger. 1997. Butterflies of New Jersey. Rutgers University Press: Rutgers, New Jersey. 327 pp.

  • Huber, R. L. 1981. An updated checklist of Minnesota butterflies. Minnesota Entomological Association Newsletter 14(3):15-25.

  • Iftner, D. C., J. A. Shuey, and J. V. Calhoun. 1992. Butterflies and Skippers of Ohio. Ohio Biological Survey Bulletin. New Series, Vol. 9, no. 1, xii + 212 pp., 40 color plates.

  • Klassen,P.,Westwood, A.R., Preston. W.B. and W.B. McKillop. 1989. The butterflies of Manitoba. Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature. Winnipeg. 290 pp.

  • Layberry, R.A., P.W. Hall, and J.D. LaFontaine. 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, Canada. 280 pp. + color plates.

  • Morris, R.F. 1980. Butterflies and Moths of Newfoundland and Labrador: the Macrolepidoptera. Hull PQ, Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. Publication 1691. 418 pp.

  • Natural Resources Commission. 2014. Roster of Indiana Animals, Insects, and Plants That Are Extirpated, Endangered, Threatened or Rare. Information Bulletin #2 (Sixth Amendment. 20pp.

  • O'Donnell, Jane E., Gall, L. F., Wagner, David L. 2007. The Connecticut Butterfly Atlas. State Geological and Natural History Survey Bulletin no. 118. 376 pp.

  • Opler, P. A., and A. D. Warren. 2002. Butterflies of North America. 2. Scientific Names List for Butterfly Species of North America, north of Mexico. C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. 79 pp.

  • Pelham, J. P. 2008. A catalogue of the butterflies of the United States and Canada with a complete bibliography of the descriptive and systematic literature. The Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera. Volume 40. 658 pp. Revised 14 February, 2012.

  • Shapiro, A.M. 1974. Butterflies and Skippers of New York State. Search 4:1-60.

  • Shuey, John. 1995. Indiana S-Ranks for Butterflies. Memorandum to Cloyce Hedge. 10 pp.

  • Shull, Ernest M. 1987. The Butterflies of Indiana. Publ. by Indiana Acad. Science, distributed by Indiana Univ. Press, Bloomington/Indianapolis, 262 pp.

  • Wildlife Management Information System (WMIS). 2006+. Geo-referenced wildlife datasets (1900 to present) from all projects conducted by Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories, Canada.  Available at http://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/programs/wildlife-research/wildlife-management-information-services

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