Mourning Cloak

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), picture by Ayane Inuzuka-Boyle

How long do butterflies live? For most, the answer is “not very long,” after what may have been many months as an egg, caterpillar, and chrysalis. For the mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), however, life as a butterfly can stretch over an entire year. Mourning cloaks spend the winter in hibernation, under bark for example, and they are often the “first butterfly of spring,” along with their close relatives, the tortoiseshells and commas. Since mourning cloaks are widespread in North America and Eurasia, they are probably the most oft-encountered spring butterflies in the north temperate world.

Read more on the Society Entomologica Canadensis, also on Butterflies and Moths.

Sighted by:

Ayane Inuzuka-Boyle, May 19, 2020, on Tan Road, Cortes Island.

Dera and Tamias Nettle, May 18, 2020.

“Dera and I saw a mourning cloak, Nymphalis antiopa, yesterday. We don’t have a photo, but I am positive about the identification because it landed on an alder leaf, close enough for me to see the blue spots.
We watched the mourning cloak flying back and forth several times along one edge of our yard. The word ‘patrolling’ came to mind.
It flew right past Dera and we could hear its wings fluttering.”