Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mourning Cloak - Nymphalis antiopa - Morio

I spotted quite a few Nymphalis antiopa individuals in the Mont-Royal park on April 19th. It is often one of the earliest butterflies spotted in the spring. This species is globally distributed, but tends to prefer colder, forested environments.

N. antiopa
There is some evidence that this butterfly may overwinter instead of migrating to warmer climates in winter. This may allow the species to mate and reproduce at the earliest possible time in the spring, leaving more time available for their offspring's development throughout the season.

N. antiopa exhibits some very interesting mating behaviour. The males engage in lekking, where they congregate in a general area and establish individual territories where they perform their mating displays, attempting to mate with as many females as possible. The females seek out these congregations and select mates among the choices there.

N. antiopa - this particular individual very obligingly held still while I got close to photograph it. At some point I may be better to acquire a telephoto lens for my camera, if I don't want to have to sneak up on insects hoping they will hold still while I stick a camera within a few inches of them
N. antiopa isn't much of a pollinator, as it feeds primarily on foliage and sap -- and there are some reports of its caterpillars stripping entire trees with their appetite.

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