This is a summer form Eastern Comma. The hindwings are darker than in the winter forms (above). Both Question Marks and Eastern Commas have a darker summer form.
This Eastern Comma was basking among raindrops after a morning shower. Eastern Commas closely resemble their cousins, the Question Mark butterflies, but Eastern Commas almost always lack the Question Mark's fourth "flattened dot" at the end of the row of three dots. Eastern Commas also tend to be slightly smaller on average (although there is some overlap in their size range).
Eastern Commas are a year-round butterfly. I have seen them flying every month of the year except January (adults hibernate through the winter). The photograph at left was taken on November 10th. Cold yet sunny weather is good for photographing butterflies because it makes them sluggish. Had the weather been warmer, this Eastern Comma would have flown away long before I got this close with my iPhone camera.
This is another early Eastern Comma butterfly, photographed on March 27th. I rarely see Eastern Commas drinking flower nectar, but this butterfly was enamored of some purple cress flowers (a spring-blooming wildflower).
Ventral view of an Eastern Comma sitting on a spotted leaf. This species gets its name from a white comma-shaped marking (visible when the wings are closed).
This photograph is special to me, because this is my personal earliest date for a butterfly sighting. I photographed this Eastern Comma butterfly at Cox Arboretum on February 17, 2017. The weather was unusually warm for February, and this brave butterfly emerged from hibernation to nectar on Winter Aconite flowers. Eastern Commas are the only butterflies I have seen in the month of February.