mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.
FAMILY: Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)
SUBFAMILY: True Brushfoots (Nymphalinae)
IDENTIFICATION: Short projections on both wings, borders irregular.
Upperside is purple-black with a wide, bright yellow border on outer
margins, and a row of iridescent blue spots at the inner edge of the
LIFE HISTORY: Overwintered adults mate in the spring, the males
perching in sunny openings during the afternoon to wait for receptive
females. Eggs are laid in groups circling twigs of the host plant.
Caterpillars live in a communal web and feed together on young
leaves, then pupate and emerge as adults in June or July. After
feeding briefly, the adults estivate until fall, when they re-emerge
to feed and store energy for hibernation. Some adults migrate south
in the fall.
FLIGHT: Usually one flight from June-July.
WING SPAN: 2 1/4 - 4 inches (5.7 - 10.1 cm).
CATERPILLAR HOSTS: Willows including black willow (Salix nigra),
weeping willow (Salix babylonica), and silky willow (Salix sericea); also
American elm (Ulmus americana), cottonwood (Populus deltoides),
aspen (Populus tremuloides), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), and hack-
berry (Celtis occidentalis). Older caterpillars wander about and may be
found on plants that they do not eat.
ADULT FOOD: Mourning Cloaks prefer tree sap, especially that of oaks.
They walk down the trunk to the sap and feed head downward. They
will also feed on rotting fruit, and only occasionally on flower nectar.
HABITAT: Because Mourning Cloaks roam and migrate, they are found
almost anywhere that host plants occur including woods, openings,
parks, and suburbs; and especially in riparian areas.
RANGE: All of North America south of the tundra to central Mexico;
rarely in the Gulf States and peninsular Florida. Also native to
temperate Eurasia. Comments: Adults live 10-11 months and may be
our longest lived butterfly.
CONSERVATION: Not required.
NATURESERVE GLOBAL STATUS: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally,
though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the
MANAGEMENT NEEDS: Occasionally may be necessary to control
caterpillar damage to shade trees.
SKY MEADOWS OCCURRENCE:
Note: Due to seasonal conditions in this region, occurrence may vary from
year to year. The designation of occurrence may range over two or more
categories and may vary even during a single season.
Key to Checklist
A Abundant: Easy to see very large numbers of individuals in appropriate habitat
at proper time of year.
C Common: Usually each to see good numbers of individuals in appropriate habitat
at proper time of year.
U Uncommon: Sometimes found in appropriate habitat and proper time of year,
usually in low numbers.
O Occasional: Found in appropriate habitat perhaps only a few times a year, usually
in low numbers.
R Rare: Small chance of being found, even in appropriate habitat at proper time of
year. There are few individuals and may not be present every year.
X Extirpated: Formerly present, no longer occurs in Sky Meadows Park.
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Sky Meadows Park
Crooked Run Valley