Friday, May 4, 2012

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Every spring I look forward to the first appearance of my favourite butterfly - the Mourning Cloak. It's usually one of the first species to appear because it is one of only a few butterfly species that overwinters as adults. All they need is a few sunny hours to awake from a form of hibernation and make their first appearance. The newly emerged butterflies seek a mate and then the females lay eggs on tender green leaves as they start to appear. Willows and members of the poplar family are favourite host plants. Then the adults die and we have to wait until later in the summer to see this spectacular butterfly again.

The name is an English translation of the common name for this species from Germanic languages. The English themselves call Nymphalis antiopa the Camberwell Beauty. Mourning cloaks have been out for a few weeks already this spring but it took until today before I met up with one while I was carrying a camera and had an opportunity for a shot.