Adults: The three Missouri anglewings with irregular wing margins are most easily identified by the small silvery “punctuation marks” on the lower surface of the hindwing. The question mark is the only species with a dot next to the curved line. The upper side of the wings is orange with black markings. Note the row of three black spots on the forewing with a black line (like a hyphen) over the spot closest to the wingtip; the line is missing on the eastern and gray commas (P. comma and P. progne). The summer brood has the top side of the hindwing almost completely dark, while the overwintering fall brood has an orange hindwing, brighter markings, and violet-gray tails. Because the margin of the wings sometimes looks purplish, another common name is “violet tip.”
Larvae are spiny and yellowish to reddish brown with dark and light markings; the head has one pair of spines.