Stuff In My Yard: Question Mark


Photo by Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons

Question Mark

Polygonia interrogationis

The garden is starting to fill in nicely now, although since it’s full blazing sun at the moment, anticipated to crack ninety degrees, the main bed is looking like wilted lettuce.  The flowers are blooming, a vast array in red and white and pink and yellow, a pollinator’s delight…which is, of course, why I found this spectacular butterfly hanging out on the heap of junk on the side of the house, waiting to be dragged away to the dump.

Question mark butterflies aren’t into flowers. They’re into trees. I hadn’t seen one in the yard before today, so I had to run inside and look him up immediately, where I discovered that he’s probably here because all those winged elm trees (well…shrubs…) that are growing throughout the wooded area. Elm is one of their chosen larval host plants.

As adults, apparently they still aren’t all that interested in flowers. (What the one in the photo is doing posing on yarrow, I have no idea–perhaps he didn’t get the memo, or he’s an iconoclast of butterfly-kind.) They like sap. And carrion. And dung.

As butterflies go, these are hardcore.

(The irony here is that the family name of these fellows are “Angelwings” because of those lovely cut-out wing shapes.)

Well. I draw the line at leaving carrion lying around the yard–I mean, I’d probably do it, I’m crazy, and I’d love to bring the local black vultures down for a visit, but that crosses a line where the neighbors actually get to complain. Not mowing the lawn, meh. Large plantings bringing in wildlife, stfu. Leaving carcasses on the lawn…now you’ve got a legitimate gripe. I respect that. (For the record, our neighbors can’t even see our yard, and to my knowledge have never complained about anything. Still.)

The dog crap in the backyard will simply have to suffice for our friendly neighborhood question mark. No need to thank me, butterfly, I give it to you freely. Bon Appetit.


  • Alexis says:

    I know you don’t keep chickens (well, relatively certain) but this might interest you. Y’anno, just in case you really REALLY wanted to give those butterflies a good time…

  • Pat Schubert says:

    What a lovely picture of your Question Mark! Another way to feed one is hanging a tray with ripe fruit in it. Ripe bananas frozen then thawed in the tray will lure Red Spotted Purples also. Fun watching who comes to drink.