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A mourning cloak butterfly crosses paths with an ant at the PNM Butterfly Pavilion.

Posted June 19, 2014.
Photo courtesy James Sheng.

The drab presentation of the mourning cloak butterfly belies a colorful patterning hidden within its folded wings. Its greyish brown underwings provide excellent camouflage for this common insect, while its upper-side displays purple-black wings bordered by a bright yellow stripe and iridescent blue spots. Mourning cloaks are one of the few butterflies that hibernate and can even be seen on a sunny winter day.

Butterflies are unwitting pollinators. Landing on a flower, a butterfly extends its long, curled proboscis, or tongue, to drink the sweet liquid nectar produced within the flower. Its long legs, proboscis and wings attract sticky pollen grains, which it carries and deposits on other flowers.

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