A week ago we still had sunny weather and plenty of butterfly activity. I found a mourning cloak which was drinking sap from wounds on a lilac bush and chased it around with my camera.
Mourning cloaks are one of my favorite butterflies. Of all the Iowa butterflies, these live the longest in the adult stage of their life cycle. With their subdued colors they can easily disappear on the side of a tree trunk, but when they are out in the open they can be spectacularly beautiful.
Mourning cloaks can be the first butterflies encountered in the late winter or early spring–often flying when the snow is still on the ground.
I have not witnessed the behavior myself, but I talked to someone who raises butterflies and he said that adult mourning cloaks will “play dead” sometimes when alarmed. I have seen other insects do this.
The mourning cloak. One of my favorites.