North American Range
Its drab gray ventral surface belies the brightly speckled orange patterning you see once the Gray Comma opens its wings. Active well into October, adults overwinter and are one the first butterflies to emerge in the spring. They are slow fliers, but easily startled, except when sipping minerals. In mid afternoon, males perch on trees or shrubs at the edges of clearings to wait for females. Eggs are laid singly on leaves of host plants and larvae feed underneath.
A medium to small anglewing. Upperside is bright orange-brown; summer form has hindwing with a wide dark border, winter form has the border covering only about one-quarter of the wing; both enclosing a few small yellow spots. Underside is charcoal gray with fine dark striations; forewing with three to four light chevrons in a dark border. Silver mark in center of hindwing is small, slender, and L-shaped.
There are three generations. The overwintering adults begin to appear in the end of March. A second generation begins to emerge in May and third generation overwinters. Extreme dates: 29 March 2004 in Rupert (D. Rolnick) and 20 October 2007 in Pownal (K. Hemeon).
Distribution and Habitat
Scudder (1889) commented that, “In New England it is more generally distributed and universally common than any other species of the genus, but is somewhat more abundant in the southern half than in the northern parts.” A confusing range emerged during VBS with records predominantly from west of the Green Mountains in the southern half of the state, central Vermont and the Northeastern Highlands. Adults prefer openings in northern forests and nearby open areas such as yards and gardens, roadsides, and along streams. Larval hostplants are mainly currants such as Wild Gooseberry (Ribes rotundifolium). Adults will nectar rarely and are most commonly found on sap flows, dung, or decaying matter.