The Mourning Cloak is Montana’s state butterfly and one of the first butterflies we see each year (as early as March). After overwintering as an adult, these hardy butterflies will find a mate, lay eggs, and die. But as you see here, they make a second appearance in the late summer and fall. As early as July we begin to see the next generation of Mourning Cloaks and other species of commas and tortoiseshells that will overwinter as adults. Rather than spending the summer actively feeding, these butterflies spend a lot of the summer resting in a protected spot (sort of like a summer “hibernation”). In late summer / fall, they become more active before their winter hibernation. Five to seven months from now, these same butterflies will re-emerge from their winter slumber to feed and start the next generation.

Size: Wingspan 57-101 mm

Photo by: Lisa Ann Cloo on 9/2/21 in Clinton, MT