Mourning Cloak Butterfly
(Grand Forks, B.C. Canada)
Mourning Cloak Butterfly top view
This butterfly is unmistakable - once you've seen one, you remember them forever. They have dark mahogany purplish wings, with a distinct pale yellow edging, and many bright blue spots. The bottom of the wings, which shows while they open and close them during their puddling behaviour is exactly like old wood, which makes them difficult to see until they open their wings again.
They feed on sap flowing from certain trees, predominantly oak, but others as well, and fermenting fruit. The caterpillars are dark gray or black, with red and white spots, and bristles. They can sometimes be a bit of a pest as they'll group together and defoliate trees, but in most cases, the damage is short lived. They prefer willows, elm trees and poplar to feed on.
They are apparently one of the few butterflies where the adults overwinter, and sometimes you can see them early in the spring on warmer days, brought out by the sun.
The correct Latin name for this butterfly is Nymphalis antiopa.
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