Mourning Cloak

The Mourning Cloak is a butterfly that is found in North America and Britain.  It is from the Nymphalidae family of butterflies.

What Does the Mourning Cloak Look Like?

The Mourning Cloak has reddish brown wings and at the edges of the wings is a cream border followed by small white dots.

The Mourning Cloak male is lighter in color than the female.

Mourning Cloak Upperside

Where Does the Mourning Cloak Live?

The Mourning Cloak is found around North America and Britain.  Some of the states include Texas, Florida and Louisiana.  A few of this butterfly species have been seen in Asia and Japan, but not very many of them.

The Mourning Cloak likes a habitat that is hardwood forests, grasslands or other places that are warmer.

When is the Mourning Cloak Most Active?

The Mourning Cloak is most active during the summer and fall months in Great Britain and all year around in the warmer states in the United States.

Life Cycle of the Mourning Cloak

The Mourning Cloak starts out as a yellow, green or amber colored egg and then the egg will later turn pink and then almost black.  The egg is only around .9 millimeters big.

Later, the egg will hatch and a caterpillar will come out and it will be black with red dots going down its bag.  The front legs are bright red and the body has a lot of black spines and white dots on it.

The caterpillar of the Mourning Cloak will be around two inches long.

When the caterpillar gets around 1.1 inches in length, it will be gray or brown and will have red spikes going from its body.  This will be when it will form a chrysalis and begin its transformation into a butterfly.

Mourning Cloak Underside

The adult Mourning Cloak will be a butterfly that has markings on it that is not like any other butterfly.  This makes it easy to spot a Mourning Cloak.

Finding a Mate

The Mourning Cloak will mate with many different females in one season.  He will either search around and try to find a female or he will flutter around one area that he knows the females are attracted to.

Most of the male Mourning Cloak butterflies will find an area that has a lot of plants that the female can drink the nectar from.

The male will look around areas such as parks, gardens, ponds or close to streams and can stay there for many days.

Behavior of the Mourning Cloak

The Mourning Cloak is one butterfly that will hibernate when it is wintertime.  Most of the locations that they hibernate at are in tree holes and close to the ground under loose tree bark.

What Does the Mourning Cloak Eat?

As a caterpillar, the Mourning Cloak will eat plants such as willow, American elm, hackberry, hawthorn, wild rose and more.

The adult Mourning Cloak likes to drink sap and eat on the sugar from fruits that have fallen to the ground.   This butterfly also drinks the nectar from plants.

Predators of the Mourning Cloak

The Mourning Cloak has many predators such as beetles, ants, wasps, mites, praying mantises, dragon flies, reptiles, birds, amphibians and mammals.


The Mourning Cloak has a protection of camouflage to protect itself.  The back of its wings look like part of the tree when it is folded together.

The Mourning Cloak will also group with other butterflies to scare away birds and other attackers.

The Mourning Cloak also makes a sound that sounds like a loud click when it flies away from a predator.


In the winter, the Mourning Cloak will find ways to sit in direct sunlight.  Since their wings are such a dark color, they collect sun and it gives them the most heat that they can get and protects them from being too cold.

More Facts About the Mourning Cloak:

  • The adult Mourning Cloak is called a brush footed butterfly because it has front legs that are hairy.
  • The male Mourning Cloak is known for a butterfly that likes to sit on high objects and perch there.
  • The Mourning Cloak goes through metamorphosis which means that its body completely changes from an egg to a larva to a pupa to an adult.
  • The Mourning Cloak female lays its eggs in a ring on the plant that it lives by.
  • The caterpillars of the Mourning Cloak stay together in groups until it sheds its skin.
  • The Mourning Cloak caterpillars will eat the eggs of the unhatched caterpillars.
  • The caterpillar of the Mourning Cloak will twitch at the same time to scare away predators.
  • The Mourning Cloak butterfly is not considered a good pollinator because it mostly feeds on sap and fruit rather than flowering plants.
  • In Switzerland and Austria, the Mourning Cloak is protected by law.

What Did You Learn?

What is the Mourning Cloak?
The Mourning Cloak is a butterfly that is found in parts of the United States and in Britain.

What does the Mourning Cloak do to stay warm in the winter?
The Mourning Cloak will get in direct sunlight in the winter to absorb the heat in their wings to stay warm.

What does the Mourning Cloak eat?
Unlike most butterflies who drink nectar from flowering plants, the Mourning Cloak mostly will drink nectar and eat on fruit that has fallen on the ground.

Does the Mourning Cloak have predators?
Yes.  The Mourning Cloak has many predators including beetles, ants, mammals, amphibians and more.

Does the Mourning Cloak have a defense mechanism?
The Mourning Cloak has many defense mechanisms including camouflage, grouping together and the most interesting is that they make a clicking noise when they are flying away from predators.

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