Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Mourning Cloak by Beth Hoar

 Mixed media artwork- shaded pencil sketch with watercolor overlay.

Mourning Cloak

Nymphalis antiopa

Identification

  • wingspan is 5.5 to 10 cm
  • wings (upper) are dark brown with a bright yellow border and iridescent blue spots near the outer edges
  • wings (below) are dark with whitish border
  • larva is a black caterpillar with black spines and is speckled with small white dots and a dorsal band of larger reddish spots

Life History

  • eggs are laid around the twigs of host trees
  • young caterpillars live in a web while they feed on leaves
  • they pupate and adults emerge in June or July

Diet

  • adults feed on sap from trees, especially oaks; juices of overripe fruit; sometimes flower nectar. They obtain minerals and moisture from the soil
  • caterpillars feed mainly on willows but will also eat on elms, poplars and birches

Location

  • found in a wide range of habitats but are often in hardwood forests
  • occurs across most of North America

Cool Facts

  • hibernates as an adult butterfly in hollow logs, wood piles or under loose bark
  • usually the first butterfly we see in the spring. May even appear during the winter on very mild days.
  • is one of the longest lived butterflies, living up to eleven months

 

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