Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa

A mostly springtime sight but they are summertime venturers in my area. Glassberg calls them unmistakable. They overwinter in the mountains sometimes. Bob Barber has found collections of them in sheltered crevices in the Ozarks. Warm days they venture out with their cousins the Question Marks and Commas in the winter. Another brood in the fall. They feed on Salix (Willow) and a few other trees and shrubs. Wondrous reflective overtones of purple when they are very fresh. Certainly choco-purple here. David's shot is also from the cloak outbreak of 2012 (see below), his from the NW corner of the state.

 And Charles decided to find one at Grassy Lake in Hempstead county during Cloak week in the first week of May 2012. And made us look bad again.

 David pronounced himself finished. With this dorsal from the Lost Valley where he was again surrounded by Cloaks. Excellent light and color. I think we can close the page on adults.

 Norm's still classic upper from the age of lower megabytes. Look at those disembodied antennal tips. And a fine containment of wings in the depth of field.

 And on Bell Slough's roads on 1 May 2012 I found 25 Cloaks, several were in the old wooded roads. This one has one wing angled my way out of the full focus field but once more a striking animal. Note the double yellow dots inside the last blue spots on the forewing. And the much fainter hindwing blue spots.

A difficult exterior shot on some milkweed. Kind of like cheating when they are on these flowers. Deep purples, blues and browns in the outside wing.

And all from the day of the Cloak on April 29th 2012. This one was taking sap at the base of an oak tree, you can see the white sap to the left. And an amazing dorsal color combination. And this is the largest individual I had ever seen.

And the first Cloak to ever land on me occurred on my front porch. Sat on my left knee for quite awhile. No butterfly book does this upper surface justice. In fact, they all basically suck. Starting with the dark shots in Glassberg's original book. The Butterflies of the East Coast from Cech and Tudor tries harder. But look at that thing. Only in intense sunlight do you even see the reds. Appears chocolate with purples most of the time. Note the diminished blue spotting on the forewing compared to the above Ed Gordon creature. In poor light the bright spots vanish.

And just now, I almost decided the cloak that came early and the one that returned to land on my leg were two different Cloaks!  This is a different appearing left wing. But it is all in the light, They are the same individual. This species may have become my favorite butterfly, at least for now, and until the Diana Frits return.

Look at that intricate mapping of design on the outside. Good lord. I am impressed.

And I had to include a shot taken with my Samsung Galaxy Android phone. Nice depth of field. And color scale different from my Canon. This is only 8 megapixels.

Also from Bell on the same day as the above phone shot. Different individual. And I saw 25 Cloaks at Bell in a few hours. More than I see in five normal years.

And compare Charles side shot taken from over 9 feet away with a 36 megapixel camera. Excellent color.

A huge caterpillar. And also distinct in the eastern forests. No doubt this one was looking for a new tree to feed upon or perhaps a final hanging place. Spiny, with almost heart-shaped red marks down the back.

And compare this vagrant to Arkansas though a more common eastern and western species elsewhere. This is the Milbert's Tortoiseshell, Nymphalis milberti. This one was on a mountain trail in the Colorado rockies. Note the similarity to the commas and the cloak. Much smaller than the cloaks however. Eats nettles. Flies all the way to Alaska.