The Comma is a fascinating butterfly. The scalloped edges and cryptic colouring of the wings conceal hibernating adults amongst dead leaves, while the larvae, flecked with brown and white markings, bear close resemblance to bird droppings.

The species has a flexible life cycle, which allows it to capitalize on favourable weather conditions. However, the most remarkable feature of the Comma has been its severe decline in the twentieth century and subsequent comeback. It is now widespread in southern Britain and its range is expanding northwards.

Size and Family

  • Family: Nymphalids
  • Size: Medium
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 55-60mm

Conservation Status

  • Butterfly Conservation priority: Low                          
  • European status: Not threatened 

Caterpillar Foodplants

The most widely used foodplant is Common Nettle (Urtica dioica). Other species used include Hop (Humulus lupulus), elms (Ulmus spp.), currants (Ribes spp.), and Willows (Salix spp).



Open woodland and wood edges are the main breeding and hibernating habitats.

Prior to hibernation individuals range more widely in the search for nectar and rotting fruit and are often seen in gardens and many other habitats.


  • Countries: England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales
  • Widespread in England and Wales, rare in southern Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = +57%.

Comma - Iain Leach


Comma (underside) - Andrew Cooper

Comma (underside)

Comma (upperwing) - Iain Leach

Comma (upperwing)

Comma (underside) - Bob Eade

Comma (underside)

Comma  - Rob Blanken


Comma (upperwing) - Bob Eade

Comma (upperwing)

Comma (underside/Hutchinsoni) - Bob Eade

Comma (underside/Hutchinsoni)

Comma (underwing detail) - Dean Morley

Comma (underwing detail)

Comma (egg) - Gilles San Martin

Comma (egg)

Comma (caterpillar) - Paul Davis

Comma (caterpillar)

Comma (caterpillar) - Steve Palmer

Comma (caterpillar)

Comma (pupa) by Andrew Cooper

Comma (pupa)