The Mourning Cloak butterfly Nymphalis antiopa is found in all 48 contiguous states and Alaska.
Mourning Cloak butterflies are also known as
Host trees include cottonwood, aspen, birch, willow, elm, and hackberry. On our property in Bradford County, Florida, we have found caterpillars on both willow and hackberry trees. We fed these caterpillars willow, elm, and hackberry.
Although not found often in our area of Florida, for four or five years running (as of 2014) they have been found in Alachua and Bradford counties.
Adult Mourning Cloak butterflies overwinter as adults.
In the spring, adults lay eggs in clusters. Caterpillars are gregarious. They hatch and stay close together on the tree. When they molt, their old skin/cuticle stays on the branch, often looking as if clusters of caterpillars died on the branch.
Tachinid flies are a major problem with Mourning Cloak caterpillars and chrysalises.
Chrysalises range from reddish-brown to brown to gray to black, depending upon the item upon which they pupate.
Adults eat tree sap, rotting fruit, and occasionally flower nectar. They are especially fond of sap of oak trees. They are often found sunning along edges of creeks and rivers.