This is the first time I've seen or photographed this butterfly. It flew into my garden (central Spain nr. Madrid) and I immediately thought, from the outline shape of the wing, that it was a comma. However, when I looked at the photos on my PC I was surprised to see that it didn't have the characteristic comma mark on the underside, but instead a white semi-colon. Is this a known abberation?
Normally the small white spot is a C shape hence c album but there are other forms o album delta olbum j album f album g album and even c extinctum or extincta I am not sure what your form comes under
Thanks. I haven't been able to track down all the forms you listed but I did search for Polygonia (Google) and especially images and there does seem to be one form that has a white mark with a separate dot - Polygonia interrogationis - but as far as I can see that is not present in Europe. So still not sure what this is. My field guide only lists c-album and egea and claims to cover all species in Britain and Europe!
My information comes from a Scandinavian author/book we have much to learn I have only ever seen the C mark but still looking
Are we listening to stamp collectors discussing misprints?
Of course there is variation in nature, and that's why not all Irish men have red hair!
Yes, of course there is variation in nature, that's how taxonomists manage to build a career on documenting it and classifying creatures into different species and subspecies based upon those variations. My field guide specifically states that Polygonia c-album (Comma) has a comma shaped white mark on the underside of the hindwing whereas (in contrast) Polygonia egea (Southern Comma) has an L shaped mark.
So, if you have anything useful to contribute to this discussion, please share it with us.
I am saddened by your reply if it were not for individuals looking for subtle differences we would not have the rainbow of species
How interesting is that? From the usual distinctive 'C' (albeit back-to-front) of the English alphabet your Comma sports an Arabic letter 'Za' pronounced "Zay". So, maybe, this varient should be named Za or Zay Album. http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zayin
Apologies - I was being somewhat facetious with my suggestion for Arabic naming. As far as I would say as a non-expert it's a common Comma 'C' Album. But, as you say a 'museum expert' ought to be able to settle the matter.
Alan - I have asked our butterfly curator to look into this, which he has duly done and provided the following observation:
"Bravo! This seems to be quite a rare aberration of Polygonia c-album. I examined over 600 individuals from our main collection and only four or five have a broken “C”, as also in the North American Polygonia interrogationis. The nearest to your “semi-colon” (although not quite as extreme as your example!) were a female of the hutchinsonii summer form (as yours) from Italy and a male of the typical form collected by Charles Oberthur in Rennes, France."
Thank you. I am pleased to finally have an answer and although not as exciting as a new sub-species a rare and extreme aberration is probably excitement enough at my age!
A bit late to this topic, but if I may follow-up Stuart's posting...
I think your specimen is Polygonia c-album ab. i-album Tutt, 1896
The listing of aberrations and other forms here includes 'o' and 'g' marks amongst others
Thanks for the links. I think my specimen is similar to the i-album but the photo in the Cockayne collection shows a white mark that I would describe as a shallow 'U' (ie line curling up at both ends) with a dot over one end whereas the white mark in my specimen has a hint of an upturn only at one end while at the end with the dot it simply stops.
I didn't know about this on-line resource and now I look at the photos of the two specimens of hutchinsoni I'm very surprised that the museum has an example that looks like mine - they look rather more like the g-album with a short spur at one end back in the direction of the other end. I'm going to throw another hat into the ring and say I think it looks more like the iota-album. If you look closely at the (not very good) photo there seems to be a hint of a dot in the place where my specimen has a more pronounced one.
I obviously don't see what you're seeing...
As I see it:
- Your specimen has a shallow 'c' and a dot