Sunday, April 10, 2011

Butterfly of the Month/April

Mourning Cloak
The Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa antiopa) is usually the very first butterfly species that we see as Winter is making its retreat.  These big, dark butterflies can sometimes be seen; when snow is still on the ground.  The adult butterfly actually hibernates in our region.  It uses hollow logs and trees for hibernation.  Other members of the angle-wing family do the same.  The Question Mark, Eastern Comma, Gray Comma, Green Comma and Compton Tortiseshell are also hibernators.

Members of this family of butterflies can be found along roads and woodland clearings.  They feed on rotting fruits, tree sap and wet mineral soils.  the first Mourning Cloak that I saw this year was on March 20, on Shavers Mountain.  I saw one last year on the Dry Fork above Harman in early March.

The preferred host plant for the larvae is Black Willow and Weeping Willow.
The Butterflies Of West Virginia and their Caterpillars (Pitt Series in Nature and Natural History)

Posted by High Virginia Outdoors   Photography by High Virginia Images 

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