Mourning Cloak Moth

(Nymphalis antiopa)



The Mourning Cloak moth is dark brown with a dark spot at the base of the costa and blurry gray and white markings. Its hindwing is dark brown with white along the inner margin and the lower half of the outer margin. The typical wing span is 2 1/4 to 4 inches (5.7-10.1 cm).

The caterpillar is black with white speckles, large red dots along top and spins all over.



The Mourning Cloak prefers open spaces with low vegetation including dunes, meadows, parks, vacant lots and forest edges.



Caterpillars prefer Hackberry. Older caterpillars wander about and may be found on plants that they do not eat. Adult Mourning Cloaks prefer tree sap, especially that of oaks. They walk down the trunk to the sap and feed head downward. They will also feed on rotting fruit, and only occasionally on flower nectar.


Life Cycle

The males perch in sunny openings during the afternoon to wait for receptive females. Eggs are laid in groups circling twigs of the host plant. Caterpillars live in a communal web and feed together on young leaves, then pupate and emerge as adults in June or July.



This butterfly occasionally strays to Bermuda. To attract the Mourning Cloak moth to your garden or woodland plant Southern hackberry.