Angel Wings


Question Mark

Pictures: iStockphoto |
Family Nymphalidae

Angelwings are named for punctuation marks because of their distinctive markings. All have the same orange-brown coloring with dark markings. The edges of their wings are jagged.

Pictures: AP |
Junonia coenia

Butterfly Spotting: This mainly brown butterfly can be easily identified by its distinctive eyespots.

Backyard Tip:Like its relative, the painted lady, buckeyes also enjoy composites, which are plants that are characterized by florets arranged in dense heads that resemble single flowers. These include aster, chicory, gumweed, knapweed, and tickseed sunflower. The buckeye will also visit other types of flowers such as dogbane and peppermint.

Mourning Cloak
Pictures: iStockphoto |


Nymphalis antiopa

Butterfly Spotting: As might be expected the mourning cloak is predominately black. A yellow border winds its way along the outside of its wings. Just above this yellow border are a row of iridescent blue spots.

Backyard Tip: Although mourning cloaks occasionally feed on flower nectar, its favorite delicacy is oak tree sap

Painted Lady
Pictures: Fotolia |


Vanessa cardui

Butterfly Spotting: Butterflies in the lady group tend to look strikingly similar with their orange color and black markings. A good identifier for the painted lady is the white crescent markings at the front edge of the forewings.

Backyard Tip: Painted ladies gravitate to composites. These are plants that are characterized by florets arranged in dense heads that resemble single flowers. Some examples are thistle, aster, cosmos, blazing star, ironweed and joe-pye weed. Other flowers that can also be on the menu are red clover, buttonbush, privet and milkweed.

Question Mark
Pictures: iStockphoto |


Polygonia interrogationis

Butterfly Spotting: The question mark butterfly gets its name from the shiny silver question mark on its hindwing. Like other angelwings this butterfly is an orange-brown color with dark markings and its wings are jagged. The question mark is the largest of all the angelwings.

Backyard Tip: You might think of the question mark as the scavenger of the butterfly world. Their menu often includes fruit, tree sap, dung and carrion. In a pinch this butterfly can be seen taking advantage of the nectar from such flowers as milkweed, aster and sweet pepperbush.

Red Admiral
Pictures: Fotolia |


Vanessa atalanta

Butterfly Spotting: The red admiral can’t be missed with its orange-red bands crossing the dark black of its wings. A pattern of white spots along the tips of its forewings can also be seen.

Backyard Tip: A favorite taste sensation of the red admiral is the sap on trees. They also enjoy bird droppings and fermenting fruit. In a pinch this butterfly will sample the nectar of milkweed, red clover, aster and alfalfa when their preferred delicacies are not available.

Satyr Comma
Pictures: iStockphoto |


Polygonia satyrus

Butterfly Spotting: The upper side of this butterfly is mainly a yellow-orange color. Two black spots are located near the bottom edge of the forewing and a black center spot decorates the hindwing. The underside is a mixture of light and dark golden browns. A silver comma-like marking can been seen in the center of the hindwing.

Backyard Tip: Like the question mark, the satyr comma butterfly enjoys rotting fruit. The nectar from blackberry and almond flowers is also a favorite menu item.

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