Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

The mourning cloak butterfly is one of the first butterflies to be seen in spring. 

General Information

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


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

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

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Butterflies will come out of its winter hiding from under back and well-protected crevices on warm days and go back into hiding when the temperature dip again.

Additional Reads:

Black Swallowtail
Cabbage White Butterfly
Sphinx Moth
Milkweed Tussock Moth


Closed Wing

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.


Additional Reads:

Butterfly Nectar Recipe
Tell The Male & Female Monarch Butterflies Apart
Feeding and Attracting Butterflies
Recycled Spoon Garden Butterfly 
Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds & Butterflies




Caterpillars


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.  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.


Butterfly ID Resources



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.

Additional Reads

Feeding & Attracting Butterflies
10 Wildflowers That Attract Birds To Your Yard




Pin Me For ID’ing Later


Additional Posts


Products With Mourning Cloak Images


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


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