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Mourning Cloak Butterflies Emerging

With the recent warm temperatures, Mourning Cloak butterflies have been seen gliding through fields and leafless woods.  Unlike most butterflies, Eastern Commas, Question Marks, Red Admirals and Mourning Cloaks overwinter as adults, seeking shelter in protected spots such as under loose bark. When spring arrives, they slip out from their winter quarters and take to the air.

Mourning Cloaks resemble dead leaves so much that from a distance the entire insect seems to disappear when it lands on the forest floor.  Up close you can see the velvety texture of the wing scales, said to resemble the clothing mourners used to wear; hence, their common name. Mourning cloaks live up to ten months — an impressive life span for a butterfly.  As they age, the yellow border of their wings fades to an off-white.

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3 responses

  1. I’m imagining at least 6 of the 10 months are spent in diapause. I wonder when they breed, and when the new generation that will overwinter this year emerges.

    March 29, 2021 at 8:02 am

  2. Alice

    I’d love to see some.

    March 29, 2021 at 9:11 am

  3. A couple of inches of snow on the ground and blowing everywhere on this bitterly blustery morning here in Central Vermont. I’m hoping no mourning cloaks were lured out by the gorgeous but very early spring days we enjoyed the past couple of weeks.

    March 29, 2021 at 10:00 am

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