Mariton: Summer Mourning Cloak
by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager. Photos by Carole Mebus.
We had a Mourning Cloak butterfly on Tuesday’s Butterfly Walk. This is one of the first butterflies to appear in the late winter. They overwinter as adults in the leaves. Mourning Cloaks and Eastern Commas are good reasons not to remove every last leaf from your yard in the fall. I figure it is good to have piles of leaves around the foundations and in flower beds over the winter for insulation, as well as butterfly habitat.
The Mourning Cloaks that we see in March are pretty and a reminder of things to come. The one we saw this week was “freshly minted” as we say, and much more intense than the March butterflies. The blue dots along the edge of its upper wing were brilliant. The cream border along its under wing was rich. This is one of those butterflies that was made for binoculars. Perched in the vegetation it looks subdued (as funeral attire often is), but when you look at the butterfly up close and undisturbed, you remember that those paying respects can mourn and celebrate life at the same time.
Our butterfly count is this Saturday. Hopefully we will see this species and many others on the count.