Subject: Mourning Cloak
Location: Echo Park near Elysian Park
April 17, 2017 6:28 pm
I found this emerging about 4″ in front of my front door just under the eve of the house. Is it a Mourning cloak? I can’t believe it was hanging out there in the open above my head where I pass through several times a day.
Even in climates much harsher than Los Angeles, the Mourning Cloak has a reputation for being a butterfly that flies on sunny days in the winter, even when there is snow on the ground. Mourning Cloaks that mature in the spring, like your individual, will frequently hibernate during the heat of the summer, and the snow, cold and rain of the winter. They emerge early in the spring when the leaves of preferred trees like willow and elm are just beginning to sprout. Though many individuals that have overwintered are quite tattered, they are still able to reproduce before dying. Eggs are laid and caterpillars grow quickly on the spring growth. Your individual probably hatched from an egg laid earlier this year.
We just witnessed an interesting event in our own, nearby Mount Washington garden. Tiger Swallowtails have been flying about, with the males patrolling the garden in search of mates and defending territory. We recently planted several native willows to attract Mourning Cloaks. Male butterflies will defend territory against different species as well as against members of their own species. We watched a male Mourning Cloak attempting to chase a much larger Tiger Swallowtail from our garden. It was quite amusing.