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Butterfly populations are a very good indicator of the health of an area's ecosystem !!
Image contributed by U.S.
photographer Jenn Taggart
Also known as the Grand Surprise or the White Petticoat, or the Camberwell Beauty in the U.K.
The dorsal wind side of Nymphalis antiopa is sometimes dark brown, but more often dark maroon, with lace like pale yellow edges, in combination with small, bright blue spots between the dark interior wing color and the lacey edges.
The ventral wing side is covered in gray streaks with the same lace like edge.
The males are polygnous in their mating, with a single male mating with multiple females throughout the season. (The mating season starts off in spring.)
After mating, they will go into diapause (hibernation) where they will stay until September - October, when they start to migrate. After migration, they will overwinter, and resume their mating rituals in spring, typically from April - June.
Mourning Cloaks are victims of intense predation. Their most effective method to protect themselves is to hang from trees with their wings folded back, thus giving them efficient camouflage. They will also cluster with other butterflies in trees and fly menacingly towards predators. (birds and other insects.)
Because of their diet, they are not considered importand pollinators.
Mourning Cloaks have one of the longest life spans of all butterflies, living for 11 - 12 months.
*As members of the Nymphalidae (Brush Footed) family, they have a short pair of front legs that are used for food smelling and tasting, and two pairs of longer rear legs that are used for propulsion.
*Mourning Cloaks have been the state butterfly of Montana since 2001.
Diet: caterpillars feed on a wide variety of plant leaves.
Diet: adults feed on tree sap, ripe fallen fruits and sugary and sugary secretions of aphids. (They very rarely take nectar from flowers.)
Avg. wingspan: to 10.16 cm / 4"
The single biggest threat to butterfly survival is habitat destruction!!
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