Nymphalis vaualbum

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Compton tortoiseshell
Compton Tortoiseshell.jpg
In Temagami, Ontario
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Euarthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Genus: Nymphalis
N. vaualbum
Binomial name
Nymphalis vaualbum
  • N. vaualbum j-album (Boisduval & Le Conte, 1835))[1]
  • N. vaualbum l-album (Esper, 1781)
  • Papilio vau album
    • Polygonia vau-album[2]
    • Roddia vaualbum
  • Papilio l-album
    • Vanessa l-album[2]
    • Polygonia l-album
    • Nymphalis l-album
    • Roddia l-album
  • Roddia j-album

Nymphalis vaualbum or N. l-album, the Compton tortoiseshell,[1][3][4] or false comma, is a species of butterfly in the family Nymphalidae.

An assertion that the name Nymphalis l-album is in fact the correct name over the widely used Nymphalis vaualbum proved to have backing when it was discovered the description covering vaualbum did not include a description or type specimen. Thus vaualbum can be considered nomen nudum, giving Nymphalis l-album priority.[5]



The underside of both the male and female's wings are dark mottled brown, much like tree bark. While the outside is "dull" and bark like, the inside is orange brown with dark tips. There is a single white dot or comma on the underside of each wing of both males and females similar to that of the comma butterfly (Polygonia c-album), hence the name false comma.


It is seen in deciduous and coniferous forest in a wide range throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The nominate subspecies (N. v. l-album) is found throughout central Asia. The subspecies, N. v. j-album's, range consists of Alaska and Canada south into Montana and Wyoming. They are seen east to New England and eastern Canada and south to North Carolina and Missouri. They rarely migrate to Newfoundland and Labrador, Nebraska, and Florida. The species is also found in temperate Eurasia including the Caucasus.[6]

Life cycle[edit]

The adult female will lay her eggs in a clump on the host plant. Once the eggs hatch the caterpillars will feed together until they pupate. There is one brood that flies from July to November.

Larval foods[edit]

Adult foods[edit]

Image Gallery[edit]

Nymphalis vaualbum, Compton Tortoiseshell butterfly seen in Bruce, WI
The underside of the Nymphalis vaualbum camouflages itself with the dirt ground and leaves


  1. ^ a b c Compton Tortoiseshell, Butterflies of Canada
  2. ^ a b Beccaloni, G.; Scoble, M.; Kitching, I.; Simonsen, T.; Robinson, G.; Pitkin, B.; Hine, A.; Lyal, C., eds. (2003). "Polygonia vau-album". The Global Lepidoptera Names Index. Natural History Museum. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  3. ^ "Butterflies and Moths of North America (Compton Tortoiseshell)". Montana State University. Archived from the original on 2008-10-18. Retrieved 2008-10-15.
  4. ^ Kaufman, Kenn; Brock, Jim P. (2003). "Tortoiseshells". Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-618-76826-4.
  5. ^ "Species Nymphalis l-album - Compton Tortoiseshell - BugGuide.Net". Retrieved 2015-07-18.
  6. ^ "Species". Butterfly Conservation Armenia.