Wednesday, April 6, 2011

First butterfly of spring: Mourning Cloak

It doesn't yet feel like spring everywhere in North America, but even when there's still snow on the ground, you might see a mourning cloak butterfly.

Those lovely brown wings probably allow the
Mourning Cloak to absorb more heat
 from winter/spring sunlight.
















That's because mourning cloaks overwinter as adults (most butterflies species spend the cold months as eggs, caterpillars or chrysalises).  But the mourning cloak tucks itself away behind loose tree bark or some other crevice, and take flight on those first deliriously warm spring days--or even on a sunny winter's day.

Given that they're such a harbinger of warm days, don't they deserve a more cheerful name than mourning cloak?

13 comments:

  1. You remind me the first time I ever saw a Mourning Cloak was when we were still living up on the Olympic Peninsula. It was wonderful to know that they are one of the first butterflies to emerge in the spring. We saw our first duskywing yesterday here in the Sierra foothills. Sure wish we could identify it, but not completely sure which one it was. They have rather bleak names as well: Mournful Duskywing; Funereal Duskywing!

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  2. I saw what I'm pretty sure was a Mourning Cloak from the car while driving today! Sadly I wasn't in a situation where I could slam on the breaks and hop out to look at it...

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  3. The only wingy thingies I have seen thus far this spring have had feathers on them. But I'll keep my eyes pen for a Mourning cloak.

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  4. I had a nice long ramble last weekend, but didn't see any either, Roxie. Maybe this weekend (if the rain ever stops again...)

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  5. I can't recall ever seeing one of these. I have to pay more attention!

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  6. The periwinkle blue accents on those dark brown wings - beautiful! Looks like velvet. And the lacy tan edging ... Mother Nature is the best artist.

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  7. Kat, velvet is exactly what I think of too!

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  8. Yes, those dark colors would definitely be helpful in sucking up every bit of sunlight during the colder months of early spring.

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  9. I saw one of those as well as a white one near observatory at CCC.

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  10. Great Picture :D
    thought you might like my machinima film the butterfly's tale~
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1fO8SxQs-E
    Bright Blessings
    elf ~

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  11. Great Picture :D
    thought you might like my machinima film the butterfly's tale~
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1fO8SxQs-E
    Bright Blessings
    elf ~

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yes, those dark colors would definitely be helpful in sucking up every bit of sunlight during the colder months of early spring.

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  13. The periwinkle blue accents on those dark brown wings - beautiful! Looks like velvet. And the lacy tan edging ... Mother Nature is the best artist.

    ReplyDelete