Your Petticoat is Showing

Feeding at the maple
Feeding at the Maple

An early spring pruning has resulted in our maple bleeding (not to death, mind you – spring pruning of maple and birch is frowned upon for aesthetic reasons only, and does not harm the tree) and becoming a source of refreshment for some of the spineless inhabitants of our garden. Yesterday while doing the major perennial cut-back in the front garden, two Mourning Cloaks came to visit, distracting me from my honest labor.

Mourning Cloak
The Mourning Cloak, Nymphalis antiopa (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common in Alberta, these butterflies are considered rare in England, where it is known as the Camberwell Beauty. John Acorn, in his book Butterflies of Alberta, explains that they were once known as ‘Great Surprise’ and ‘White Petticoat’ in Britain. He approves of the former, but finds the latter ridiculous. I think White Petticoat  is a nice folksy sort of name, but perhaps a bit risqué for your more staid variety of entomologist, who may find it a tad…naughty.

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