Question Mark Butterfly

Question Mark Butterfly


Question Mark Butterfly Facts


  • First of all, the Question Mark Butterfly remains one of the lesser known Lepidoptera in its endemic range. Yet its distinct characteristics make it easily recognizable. They also rank as one of the largest butterfly species within their range.
  • That endemic range covers a large portion of North America, and individuals often travel extensively within that range. While they will utilize those trees available as hosts for their caterpillars, they do prefer certain species of trees.
  • While many butterflies engage in long migrations, this insect does not do so. Typically, their migrations merely comprise relocating to dry and warmer areas within their range. They also migrate as individuals, as opposed to the mass migrations of related species.
  • Finally, this butterfly differs from the majority of its kind in matters relating to the life cycle. While most butterflies lay their eggs on the same plants they feed on, this species does not. The caterpillars feed on a variety of plants, yet not on the host plant.

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Question Mark Butterfly


Question Mark Butterfly Physical Description

Entomologists consider the distinctively marked Question Mark Butterfly to be a rather moderately large species. One of the most noteworthy facts about this insect remains what they do not possess. That’s because, unlike most butterflies or moths, they do not display sexual dimorphism. Both genders attain a wingspan of roughly 3 in (7.6 cm), and show the same markings. The upperside of the forewing shows a reddish-orange color, and black spots. In addition, it has a hooked shape. Yet the upperside of the hindwing primarily displays a black coloring. The underside of both wings remains light brown, while displaying a bright white question mark-shaped spot in the center.

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Lepidoptera

Species: P. iterrogationis

Question Mark Butterfly


Question Mark Butterfly, Habitat and Ecology

The beautiful Question Mark Butterfly has a rather broad habitat range for a species that does not migrate extensively. That range includes southern Canada, most of the eastern United States, and south to Arizona and northern Mexico. They principally inhabit forests with open spaces, parks, and even suburbs. They possess two life cycles per season, with the first flying, mating, and laying their eggs during the spring. The second cycle also repeats these activities beginning in August. The caterpillars usually hatch on one of six plant specific plant species, yet do not feed on them. Adults primarily feed on rotting fruit, carrion, tree sap, and dung. While these remain their favorites, they will also visit flowers such as aster and milkweed if necessary.

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Todd Sain Sr.