Comma chameleon

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday 3 September 2017 12:24

During a survey in East Sussex a few weeks back I was doing some routine beating for invertebrates along the edge of a wood and I noticed a shrivelled up dead leaf in my tray. Something about it didn't quite look right. I picked it up and realised it was the pupa of a Comma butterfly. Now you all know this butterfly well I am sure, it also looks like a dead leaf and the c-shaped mark on it gives the impression of a hole in the leaf.

The pupa goes one step further though. It looks quite similar to the pupa of a Silver-washed Fritillary (top image below - actually they are quite different now I have put them side by side) but it's a bit more variegated, less spiny and has few silvery patches. And a lot less chunkier. yeah they are very different. They both however, have these amazing 'mercury-effect' patches on them in very similar patterns that reflect the light like a mirror.

This really does give the impression of  it having a hole right through it. You can particularly see this when you hold it up to the light.

Even the larvae are quite convincing bird-dropping mimics temporarily! I felt pretty bad that I had dislodged this beautiful thing and greatly reduced its chances of emerging as an adult but that is unfortunately a side effect of surveying - I'd never record anything if I was frightened of beating. I made an attempt to secure it back in place but I said to myself that the best thing I could do was photograph it and write a blog about it so that I could share with people just how fascinating they are.

In other news, I've breached half a million page views on here which I am very pleased with!!! Seven and a half years of blogging and nearly a 1000 posts. Here's to the next seven and a half years and all the amazing and bizarre wildlife that Sussex has to offer!

1 Response to "Comma chameleon"

Hilary Melton-Butcher Says:

Hi Graeme - wonderful to have sight of the larva, but quite understand your feelings re the disturbance. Thanks for writing about it here, so we can see it - and you have that record.

Congratulations on the page views and for blogging for 7 1/2 years and with nearly a 1,000 posts - I will endorse you for another seven and a half years to come ... take care and thanks for sharing and posting - Hilary

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