I’ve mentioned some animals like this one before. The animals whose names are so odd or ridiculous that I can’t help but blog about them. After all, who would name an animal after a question mark? It seems very silly. And as you’ll see the reason people decided to name this poor creature ‘question mark’ is pretty lame

A view of the ‘question mark’ on the underside of the butterfly’s wings. Apparently there’s also a butterfly the comma butterfly, which looks like the question mark except the white marking is a comma. How strange.
Image by John B., CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The question mark is a species of butterfly that lives in North America. It ranges from southern Canada east of the Rocky Mountains all the way down to Mexico. They like to live in wooded areas with some open areas, such as farmlands, suburbs and parks.

The question mark has a wingspan of about 5 to 7 cm. These butterflies are quite pretty, with red-orange wings covered in black spots. The undersides of the wings are brown and look kind of like leaves. On the bottom of the underside of the wings there is a tiny little pearly mark, usually a half circle and a little dot. This inconspicuous thing is the reason the question mark has its name. It doesn’t even look like a question mark! Seriously, people need to think before they give animals their names.

Like all butterflies, the question mark undergoes a number of different stages before adulthood. Males attract females by sitting on conspicuous branches and flying around. The female then lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves, but not the plants that the caterpillars eat, so the poor question mark’s babies have to travel around to find a plant that they can eat. These are elms, hackberry, Japanese hop and nettles.

An upperside view of the question mark’s wings. Image by Photo by and (c)2007 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man), GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

After pupating, the adult butterfly emerges, and though it looks much prettier than the caterpillar, it has some nasty eating habits. I’m sure most of us picture butterflies flapping around gracefully in a flower-filled, sunshine-infused garden. But the question mark doesn’t like flowers — it prefers rotting fruit, dung, and carrion. Not your typical butterfly diet.

I don’t know who gets to decide which animals are called what, but I think there should be a system that screens names for animals, so we don’t end up with strange names like ‘question mark’. But then I wouldn’t be nearly as entertained and I’d probably have more trouble finding animals to blog about.

Cover Photo by and (c)2007 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man), GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons