A couple of weeks ago I saw my first Mourning cloak of the summer.
|It seems to be licking the petals of the coneflower.|
|Bug Guide tells me that it is known as the Camberwall Beauty in the UK. It is a beauty, sure enough. Don't you love those blue dots along the wing margins?|
It has an odd life cycle, at least in my limited experience. It overwinters as an adult, quite a feat for an insect in this climate. Eggs are laid on young twigs of host trees like willow, river birch, and cottonwood that are found along rivers. The caterpillars live in communal webs and eat the young leaves of the host tree. The first generation adults emerge in early summer, feed briefly, and then estivate until autumn. I am pretty sure that the individuals I have seen are the re-emergent adults trying to fatten up before over-wintering. They may even have a short migration south to over-winter in a less drastic climate than what we have here in Minnesota. Not a bad idea at all. ;-)
|It is in the genus of Tortoiseshells. The adults mostly feed on tree sap and rotten fruit. Occasionally, as seen here, they do partake of nectar.|