Family: NYMPHALIDAE (Brushfoots)
The Mourning Cloak
is a large, dark butterfly, most easily identified by the broad yellow
border on the outer edge of its upper wing and the little blue spots running
alongside it. The underside is a dark, striated brown with pale yellow
Range and Habitat
This species ranges throughout California and North America, though it is most abundant in the West. The Mourning Cloak can be found in many habitats, from wooded areas to open fields as well as in suburbs and cities.
Mourning Cloaks are one of the few butterflies that overwinter as adults. As caterpillars they feed on willows (Salix spp.), poplars (Populus spp.), alders (Alnus spp.), and elms, and live in communal webs until nearly mature. They are about 1 1/2 inches long by the time they strike out on their own to find a pupation site. Adults emerge in mid-summer and fly into the fall. After overwintering, they fly again in early spring. Mourning Cloaks often glide in flight.