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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Mourning Cloak Butterfly


We are still picking daffodils from our "daffy meadow", an area where we planted several hundred daffodils 2 years ago. Yesterday we found a Mourning Cloak butterfly sunning itself on the bark mulch in our garden. It would not win the most beautiful butterfly award, but it's really neat to appreciate its subtle colors which make it camouflaged against bark. Mourning Cloaks are widespread across much of North America. They are one of the few butterflies who overwinter as adults, finding protected places in log piles, nooks, or under loose bark, and when they emerge in the spring they look worn, as this butterfly does. They are one of the longest lived butterflies and some may live as long as 10 months.
Mourning Cloaks feed on sap and fruit, rarely nectar, which is a good thing since there are not many flowers out yet. Males are territorial and defend areas of about 300 square yards and wait for females to fly by so they can court them. This is probably a male since we have seen him frequently in the same area. Hope he gets a mate.

All photos © Lillian Stokes, 2006

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