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Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

The mourning cloak butterfly is one of the first butterflies to be seen in spring.  The butterfly is a reddish- brown winged butterfly with jagged banded outer wings in yellow with bright blue dots and will come out of its winter hiding from under back and well protected crevices on warm days and go back into hiding when temperature dip again.

butterfly is a reddish- brown winged butterfly with jagged banded outer wings in yellow with bright blue dots

Mourning Cloak Butterfly Markings

  • Reddish-brown winged butterfly with jagged banded outer wings in yellow with bright blue dots.
  • The underside of the mourning cloak is a modest brown to camouflage the butterfly when the wings are in the upright position. This camouflage mimics tree bark when the butterfly is at rest. The camouflage is known as cryptic camouflage.

Mourning Cloak Basics

Mourning Cloak Butterfly
  1. Common Name: Mourning Cloak
  2. Scientific Name: Nymphalis antiop
  3. Family: Brush-footed
  4. Habitat: Open woodlands, gardens, edges of bodies of water and edges of woodland areas.
  5. Host Plants: Trees – Birch, elm, hackberry, poplar, and willow.
  6. Range: Most of North America

Additional Reading Posts:
Butterfly Nectar Recipe
How to Tell The Male & Female Monarch Butterflies Apart
Feeding and Attracting Butterflies
Recycled Spoon Garden Butterfly 
Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds & Butterflies


Identifying Markings 

  • About 2 inches long with black and white speckles and a row of evenly spaced red spots along their back. 
  • Rows of black bristles surround the body and the underside has stubby rusty brown colored legs.

The female butterfly lays clusters of eggs on or near birch, elm, hackberry, poplar and willow trees.  The leaves of the trees become the food source for the caterpillars.  The caterpillars tend to eat in groups and can strip branches of their leaves.  With that said, they normally are not an insect to be of concern to the health of the tree.

Start Your Search For Butterflies In Early Spring

Since this is one of our earliest butterflies in the Northern Hemisphere, start your search early. As the season goes on, search your trees to look for caterpillars.

Pin Me For ID’ing Later

Mourning Cloak Butterfly & Caterpillar

Need Help With ID? Field Guides Are Value

There is a range map for each speciess and sub-specie, which are color-coded for the number of broods. The photos are excellent. The field marks are invaluable for ID. 


Great layout and lots of information and photos on every page! Each page is laid out with the common and scientific caterpillar names (for only butterflies no moths in the book)and is followed by a brief description of their appearance, their habitat, months they are commonly found, host plants, and additional comments. Each name is shown with a corresponding mini US map outlining in which regions they are found.

The adjacent page shows photos of the corresponding larva by number. It can also show multiple photos of the same species if they vary by brood. 


Additional Posts

Feeding Butterflies - Fruit - Sugar Water Recipe
Cabbage White Butterfly
Growing Aster Flowers From Seed

Products With Mourning Cloak Images

Additional Posts: Life Cycle of Monarch Butterflies / Cabbage White Butterfly / Female Black Swallowtail Butterfly


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