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.
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
- 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
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- 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
Need Help With ID? Field Guides Are Value
There is a range map for each specie 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.
Products With Mourning Cloak Images
Some Additional Butterflies To Explore
The butterfly commonly feeds on many different members of the parsley family, including parsley, carrots, dill, and parsnip. It may also feed on Common Meadow Rue.
Monarch butterflies go through four stages during one life cycle, and through four generations in one year. It’s a little confusing but let me walk you through the process.
The cabbage white butterfly is a white or creamy white butterfly but can have slightly pale yellow coloring too.
The butterfly itself is not harmful to crops. But, the caterpillars can wreak havoc on your cabbage and mustard family crops. The butterfly lays the eggs on your plants. The caterpillars eat your leaves and can bore inside.
The female black swallowtail to me appears to be a lighter color black than the males. It isn’t as vivid. The female doesn’t have the first row of yellow markings on the wings as the male does.
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