Often the first butterfly you spot in early spring is the Mourning Cloak butterfly. Having overwintered as adults under loose bark, Mourning Cloaks are on the wing as early as March. Due to the lack of nectar-bearing flowers at this time of year, these butterflies seek sustenance from the sap of broken branches. They are still present in April and May when mating takes place, after which they die. The next generation emerges as adults in late May or June, feed and then spend July and August in a state of torpor (estivate). They become active in late August or September and again feed before hibernating in the fall.
Mourning Cloaks are referred to as the longevity champions of the butterfly world, as they live up to ten or eleven months. The life span of a butterfly varies greatly among species, but on average most butterflies live about a month. (Note ragged edge of wings, due to old age.)
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