2 3/8-2 5/8" (60-67 mm). Wing margins ragged, HW distinctly tailed. Above, bright rust-orange blotched with black; in fall and spring; margin lined with violet; summer brood black over HW above. Below, violet- or red-brown, in fall and spring; in summer brown mottled with maroon and blue. Silvery comma in cell of HW beneath has an offset dot, forming a question mark.
No other anglewing has pronounced tails or dot opposite silver comma.
Egg, 5/128 h x 7/256 w (1 x 0.7 mm), light green,keg-shaped, and ribbed; may be laid atop other eggs in vertical columns, in horizontal strings, or singly on lower side of leaves of host plants
, which include nettles (Urticaceae), hops (Humulus), elms (Ulmus), hackberries (Celtis), and related trees. Caterpillar, to 1 5/8" (41 mm), buff to rust-colored; when mature, bears pair of black, branched spines on head and several on each segment. Chrysalis, to 7/8" (22 mm), gray-brown with olive mottling; hangs down like a shriveled leaf. Adults overwinter and reappear in April.
2 broods in North, 5 in South; spring-fall.
Woodland glades, roads, and other sunny openings; also orchards and streamsides.
East of Rockies from Saskatchewan to Texas and Mexico and east to Maritimes and Florida.
Confusingly similar, all of the anglewing butterflies of the genus Polygonia have ragged wing borders. None extends as far south as the Question Mark, which is absent from the West. Like the other anglewings, the adult Question Mark loves sap and rotting fruit. Normally highly alert, anglewings can actually become intoxicated if the fruit they are drinking has fermented in the sun.