Mourning Cloak butterflies are native in North America and Eurasia. They are a large species, one of the longest with a wingspan of up to four inches. They can be found in cold, mountain, hardwood forest areas. They begin mating in the spring and they lay eggs on host plants. The caterpillars go through five instar phases while eating the leaves of their host plants, then into the pupa stage. Metamorphosis takes about 15 days before the adult butterfly emerges. The adults feed on sap and decay matter, along with some flower nectar, they are not immense pollinators for this reason. Mourning Cloaks go into a dormant state in the summer, to avoid heat and lack of moisture. They come back in late summer and in the fall start their migrations. They have a lifespan of around a year.

Mourning Cloak eggs are prey to many other insects. The adults are prey to larger bugs, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals. These are some of the first ones I have seen this spring, among some Ponderosa Pines.


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