Nature: Butterflies and Moths

The Mourning Cloak 丧服蝴蝶 (Family Nymphalidae, Brush-footed Butterflies)

A cry of delight; a small boy running to his mother with the prize of royal purple and gold; a soft voice saying: “It’s a Mourning Cloak; let it go clear!” This is a delicious memory of a summer garden, as it is called in England, delights people over the major portion of three continents with its soft and distinctive beauty. A far northern form, the Boreal Mourning Cloak of Arctic America is noted for the bright reddish brown of its upper wings. Several strange looking and rare forms of the species have been destroyed.

Only Africa and Australia, of all the continents, know nothing of the gentle, weaving flight of the Mourning Cloak. Even South America is touched on its northern edge by this royal butterfly. A basker in the sun, a seeker of wet ground in summer, a lazy floater among the high leaves, the Mourning Cloak is common through much of the year. It is easily captured.

Clusters of the bee-hive-shaped eggs are attached to the leaves of willow, elm or poplar trees. The black-spined caterpillars are commonly seen on these trees, but the carefully camouflaged brown or greenish brown chrysalid is hidden in crevices of the bark.

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