It's time to read and vote for your favorite article in the 2013 Write-Off Contest! The four finalist's articles are featured in the May 13 newsletter and can be found through this link. Hurry! Voting ends May 18.
This bug has been reportedly found in the following regions:
Barling, Arkansas Cave Springs, Arkansas East La Mirada, California Long Beach, California San Diego, California (3 reports) Pueblo West, Colorado Galva, Illinois La Grange Park, Illinois Park Forest, Illinois Westchester, Illinois Coatesville, Indiana Atalissa, Iowa Port Vincent, Louisiana Minneapolis, Minnesota St Paul, Minnesota (2 reports) Hudson, New Hampshire Cary, North Carolina Cherry Grove, Ohio Glouster, Ohio Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Harbeck-fruitdale, Oregon Wilkes-barre, Pennsylvania Fort Worth, Texas Keller, Texas Magna, Utah Brandonville, West Virginia West Allis, Wisconsin
2 7/8 "- 3 3/8" Wing margins ragged. Above rich brownish maroon with a creamy yellow band bordered inwardly by brilliant blue spots all along both wings. Below ash black with a row of blue-green to blue-grey chevrons just inside a dirty yellow border.
Absolutely unique - there are no other similar butterflies.
On Jan 23, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:
A strongly solitary common butterfly, with two together very rare as they are territorial. The adult form comes out most commonly around the edge of the growing season, even flying on warm days of 50 degree during very early to early spring, even in Minnesota.
Other insects may even fly in 40 degree, mostly flies but also include some unidentifed insects like in the lacewing family or uncommon families that flies and mate before birds even dream about eating insects. In fall leftover hardy bugs (bugs that will tolerate frosts) like worker german yellowjacket, housefly, and asian ladybugs continue to flies during warm days before the first continuous hard freeze. That is not even unusual or uncommon, just not noticed by most people.
They are the first large butterfly to comes out during the growing season in the Northern United States. They are also found in late fall and sometimes even the rest of the growing season. They strongly prefer woodland than open environment so is rarely found in large classic butterfly gardens (which tend to demand large open spaces and full ) except for late arrivals or survivors from early Spring - also females may move through the butterfly gardens briefly in their forever search for host plants to lay their eggs.
They will rest on leaves or any hard surface often to warms up - not as wary as Cabbage White Butterfly so is a easy butterfly photograph subject. I have not seen them feed on flowers that bloom in early spring and the books said they feed on saps and rotten fruits so maybe you can try to offer them spoiled fruits like apples, plums, grapes, berries, etc.
Added Info: I have seen them as early as the second week of April in Minnesota. Males like to stake out a territory that includes at least a mineral or sap tree source (maples for example) that drips sap from wounds (rodent gnaws, storm damages, etc). They also like a sunny patch to sun themselves when the sun shines directly on them during cool days.
Have seen them wander the lawns and paths of a park in early July looking for a place to cocoon - very noticeable because of their large size (about 2 inches long) and colors.
On Jun 29, 2009, tabasco from Cincinnati (Anderson Twp), OH (Zone 6a) wrote:
The Mourning Cloak is one of the first butterflies that visits our yard in springtime, often flying alone along the woodland edge and through our garden, I suppose looking for black willows and elms, two of their hosts plants common in our area.
They are also fond of sap from maples, decomposing fruit and animal skat and enjoy those sources for food much more than nectar flowers.
Mourning Cloaks can be long lived, hibernating in winter and spending some time 'aestivating' during the hottest months of summer.
On Jun 27, 2011, natureguyfrog from San Diego, CA wrote:
I live in San Diego approximate to where Sunset zones 23 and 24 meet otherwise considered zone 10 or 11 near the junction of 805 and 94 situated on a canyon/ preserve that is a natural corridor to more interior areas. There are differing micro climates even within a couple of square miles of the area where I live. Black willows can be found in this area as well as Cottonwoods. Scrub oaks are found quite commonly in the immediate area which I assume may provide some of their adult food.
My observations and sitings in the last 25 yrs. here of the Mourning Cloak have been quite infrequent until the last two or three weeks -that is from the first week of June to yesterday June 26. I was seeing at least one butterfly daily during this period until yesterday when there were two which were apparently engaging in courtship or perhaps competing for territory. They have visited the Butterfly Bush and Pentas plants for nector. This is the first year that I have not been able to harvest and process apples from my trees so that there has been an abundance of rotting fruit on the ground. I understand that that rotting fruit is attractive to adults...! However I have not observed them on the fruit which has fallen into mostly tall grass and weeds. As far as nector plants go... of the many plants in my garden the two above plants are preferred by the Mourning Cloak. I am not sure if it is purtinent info but there are plenty of places for butterflies to get a drink of water via containers of bog and aquatic plants and fish.