Mourning Cloak Butterfly

mourning cloak butterfly

The Mourning Cloak Butterfly is a member of the Brush-Footed Butterflies or Nymphalidae family. They are one of the most widely spread butterflies in North America.....found throughout the U.S., Canada, Alaska, and Mexico.

They hold the record for life span - some adults living up to 10 months.

mourning cloak caterpillar mourning cloak caterpillar mourning cloak J

The Mourning Cloak overwinters in the butterfly stage. It hides under bark, in wood piles and other crevices. If the temperature goes over 60 degrees F in winter, sometimes the butterfly becomes active.

They are often the first butterfly seen in Spring. They will feed on tree sap during these early Spring days.

mourning cloak chrysalis mourning cloak chrysalis mourning cloak chrysalis

The males are territorial, defending their area as they wait for females to fly by. Females lay eggs in clusters.

Their host plants include the following trees:

  • Willows
  • Aspens
  • Elms
  • Birch
  • Hackberry
The caterpillar's spines and hairs protect them from predators while they feed in conspicuous groups.

mourning cloak chrysalis mourning cloak chrysalis mourning cloak chrysalis

The caterpillars disperse from their group when it is time for them to pupate (go into the chrysalis).

This is when I found my caterpillar. It was crawling up the side of my house. I found out later that my neighbor had many chrysalises hanging from his eaves near to where I found my caterpillar.

These butterflies have one to two broods between April and November.

mourning cloak butterfly

They rarely drink flower nectar, but instead feed on sap, fruit and nutrients on damp ground (puddling).

This was another interesting metamorphosis to observe...........

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