Mourning Cloak Butterfly – Nymphalis antiopa

Mourning Cloak Butterfly – Nymphalis antiopa


Description:  2.25-4”, brown wings with yellow edges, blue spots in a dark band between the inner brown wing and outer yellow edge; undersides of wings duller brown with beige edge

Habitat:  Woodlands, wherever host species for mourning cloak caterpillars are found (see below)

Food:  Mourning cloak caterpillars eat the leaves of many trees and shrubs, particularly willow, cottonwood, elm, hackberry, and poplar.  The adult butterflies eat sap, especially from oaks, nectar, and decaying fruit.

Range: Throughout most of North America and Eurasia

Similar Species: None

Interesting Facts:

  • The mourning cloak butterfly is the state insect of Montana.
  • Adults live 10-11 months, which is an especially long life for a butterfly
  • The mourning cloak over-winters as an adult butterfly, as opposed to an egg, pupae, or larvae like most butterflies.

Christensen, James R. 1981. A field guide to the butterflies of the Pacific Northwest. Northwest Naturalist Books, University Press of Idaho.

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