Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Spring Butterfly

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

On Monday it was a nice sunny day and I went on a bike ride through the valley. Among other things I encountered several Mourning Cloaks fluttering by. This one waited politely while I took several close-up photos.

From the quick research I did, I found out that they hibernate through winter in their adult stage and wake up in early spring. They quickly feed on the nectar of early flowers or feed on exposed tree sap. They mate and then lay their eggs on willow trees to begin their cycle again. This is another example of how some species are adapted to take advantage of a period of the year when there isn't much competition.

If you look closely (click on picture), you might notice a bunch of long hair that is growing lengthwise along its abdomen. It's possible that this is another adaptation to protect it against the winter cold during hibernation.

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