Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Calendar
Upcoming Events

Discussion of 2018 gathering

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa

Photos from the 2010 Workshop in Grinnell, Iowa

Photos from the 2009 gathering in Washington

TaxonomyBrowse
Info
ImagesLinksBooksData

Species Nymphalis antiopa - Mourning Cloak - Hodges#4432

Mourning Cloak - Nymphalis antiopa Mourning Cloak - Nymphalis antiopa Caterpillars and More Caterpillars! - Nymphalis antiopa Mourning Cloak at Dutch Creek - Nymphalis antiopa Mourning Cloak - Nymphalis antiopa Unknown Butterfly - Nymphalis antiopa  Mourning Cloak - Nymphalis antiopa Mourning Cloak - Nymphalis antiopa
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
Family Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Subfamily Nymphalinae (Crescents, Checkerspots, Anglewings, etc.)
Tribe Nymphalini
Genus Nymphalis (Tortoiseshells)
Species antiopa (Mourning Cloak - Hodges#4432)
Hodges Number
4432
Other Common Names
Camberwell Beauty (British Isles), Spiny Elm Caterpillar (larva)
Size
wingspan 57-101 mm
larva to about 50 mm
Identification
Adult dark brown or purplish-black with yellow borders and blue submarginal spots (1)

Larva black and spiny with a row of eight red patches down the back. (2)
another description: Blackish with abundant white flecking. Black dorsal midline flanked by paired red spots on last thoracic and most abdominal segments. Spines, long and shiny black with short side branches. Prolegs red. [Caterpillars of Eastern Forests]
Range
all of North America south of the tundra, south to central Mexico
also occurs in temperate Eurasia
Habitat
usually riparian areas but may be found almost anywhere that host plants occur, including woods, openings, parks, and suburbs
Season
One of the earliest butterflies seen in spring, due to the fact that it overwinters as an adult.
First-generation adults emerge in early summer, and estivate until fall, when they re-emerge.
Larvae present from June to September in the east [USGS 1], and from May to July in the west [USGS 2]
Food
Larvae eat primarily willow (Salix spp.) but also other trees and shrubs including Cottonwood (Populus deltoides), Trembling Aspen (P. tremuloides), American Elm (Ulmus americana), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera), and Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis).

Adults feed primarily on tree sap (oaks preferred) and rotting fruit; only occasionally on flower nectar.
Life Cycle
Eggs are laid in groups circling twigs of the host plant. Caterpillars live in a communal web and feed together on young leaves, then pupate and emerge as adults in June or July. After feeding briefly, the adults estivate until fall, when they re-emerge to feed and store energy for hibernation. Some adults migrate south in the fall. [Butterflies of North America]
Remarks
Caution: Do not touch the larva; its spines may cause a stinging sensation if handled. The pupa of the Mourning Cloak is harmless - unlike the pupa of tent caterpillars (Malacosoma species), which may cause an allergic reaction on the skin if handled by allergy sufferers or individuals with very sensitive skin. See Auburn site for more information.
Print References
Butterflies through Binoculars (1)
Internet References
Butterflies of North America live adult image plus description, biology, seasonality, food of larva and adult, habitat, range, references, US distribution map
Caterpillars of Eastern Forests live larva image by Bob Wilson, plus description, foodplants, seasonality, life cycle (USGS)
Caterpillars of Pacific Northwest Forests and Woodlands live larva image by Jeffrey Miller, plus description, foodplants, seasonality (USGS)
Works Cited
1.Butterflies Through Binoculars: The East
Jeffrey Glassberg. 1999. Oxford University Press.
2.Caterpillars of Eastern North America
David L. Wagner. 2005. Princeton University Press.