Mourning Cloak Caterpillars Pupating
Having overwintered as an adult, the Mourning Cloak butterfly (Nymphalis antiopa) is one of the first butterflies seen in early spring. Mating takes place and eggs are laid in a cluster encircling a twig of a willow, cottonwood, elm, birch or hackberry tree. The hatching caterpillars stay together until they move off their host plant to pupate, which is what is happening right now and why you can find these distinctive spiny black and red caterpillars at this time of year. Adult Mourning Cloaks emerge in midsummer, enter a state of dormancy until fall and then seek a sheltered spot in which to hibernate until spring.
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