Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cellar Mourning Cloak

While walking beside the house I noticed movement behind the dirty window in the cellar door and saw a butterfly fluttering against the glass. I went into the cellar and found this beautiful Mourning Cloak trapped inside.

This is some perfect dead leaf mimicry. Butterfly experts agree that the typical emergence time for adult Mourning Cloaks in June or July. There is disagreement as to whether or not there is a second brood that emerges in the fall. I tend to think this individual recently emerged from a pupa somewhere in my cellar. There are openings into the cellar that would allow access for a caterpillar, but nothing large enough to pass an adult butterfly.

The pristine condition of this butterfly suggests that it is newly arrived to the cellar. If this guy had spent much time at all flapping against these windows, there would be dirt and cobwebs showing on the body and wings. I think it timed things perfectly to catch my attention and gain its release.

I’ve always had trouble getting close enough to these butterflies for a good picture. I agreed to show this butterfly the way to freedom if it would give me a couple of good poses. It obliged, not knowing that I would have let it out anyway. Of course we already know that it wasn’t the smartest of butterflies or it would never have gotten itself trapped in the cellar. Mourning Cloaks overwinter as adults, so I may see this one around again next spring.

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