The Camberwell Beauty

I like the English names for this insect, so more appropriate than 'Mourning Cloak'. When seen there--sadly not often, only when they are blown across the channel--they are usually known as Camberwell Beauties.

There are lots of them flying along our creeks now. I saw 8 or 10 in a mile riding a bike along the eastern end of our creek trail; and managed a picture today while walking our dog. These placid creatures are relatively easy to photograph. They are notorious for sticking around when you drop by; even having a tendency to land on you from time to time. When I was a child in Los Angeles they might be seen around the Anderson's swimming pool; our consensus was that they preferred to lite on the heads of tow headed girls when there was a choice. Someone told me that this homo-tropic behavior was an example of the salt-seeking instinct that causes many butterflies to 'puddle' on damp mud; but that wouldn't explain a predilection for blond hair...assuming our childish observations were accurate. My mother agreed, and said it was because little girls must have seemed so much like flowers to the friendly butterflies.

My favorite behavior is their persistence over the cold months, and ability to fly on any warmish december or january afternoon. This is a decidedly cheerful phenomenon for any citizen out in that milky sunshine; hardly what you expect among the desiccated and frosty remains of the summer growth. Of course, the other English name for N. antiopa is the 'Grand Surprise'.

Posted by icosahedron icosahedron, March 09, 2013 02:15


Photos / Sounds



Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa




March 8, 2013 02:50 PM PST


AKA 'Camberwell Beauty'... I think a much better name for this lovely insect.


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