Mourning Cloak butterflies (Nymphalis antiopa) are widely distributed in the United States and Canada. They can be found further south, in Mexico and northern South America. They are also found in parts of Europe. Mourning Cloaks are one of Michigan's earliest butterflies since they can overwinter as an adult. They can live up to 11 months, one of the longest butterfly lifespans.
Mourning Cloaks are a common woodland butterfly since they prefer to drink tree sap to flower nectar. Their caterpillars eat leaves from a variety of trees and shrubs. The caterpillars are spiny and cluster together for protection, twitching in unison to discourage predators.
I teach economics at Kalamazoo College. My wife is also an economist. We were on sabbatical in Europe for the 2014-15 academic year. (Salamanca, Spain, followed by Oxford, UK.) We were in Uruguay for the 2006-7 academic year.