Tow Mourning Cloak Butterflies, Nymphalis antiopa
, surprised me yesterday.
I herd them flapping around caught inside one of last year's Joe Pye Weed stems. I thought they were a bird at first then realized they were butterflies, TWO of them in the process of mating no less.
The other shocking thing was how calm they were once they landed. Normally when I find them in the wild they're quick to bolt into the air.
These two did not seem to care how close I was.
I was able to get the camera right up in their face! I took a few shots that were even closer than the one above, but ... even butterflies can be ugly. Also the images weren't as in focus as I would have liked.
They even let me move them to a different location without flying away.
They mimic dead leaves very well.
It's a shame I don't have their host plants in my yard, or I would have tried to get her to lay some eggs for me. Willows (native and non), American Elm, Cottonwood, Aspen, Paper Birch and Hackberry, to start out. Adult caterpillars apparently wonder off of these and can eat a wider variety of plants.