names for mourning cloak

Chris J. Durden drdn at
Wed Apr 12 01:40:07 EDT 2000

>Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2000 00:39:36 -0500
>To: bbarnett at
>From: "Chris J. Durden" <drdn at>
>Subject: Re: names for mourning cloak
>In-Reply-To: <38F4896E.D7AFE400 at>
>The earliest published usage I have seen for "mourning cloak" in North
America is in the "Canadian Naturalist and Geologist", published in Ottawa
in the 1860's. W. d'Urban and other authors use this name. They were
correspondents with Harris in Massachusetts who identified specimens by
mail, circulated lists of names and published notes (mainly on economic
pests) in the "New England Farmer". In 1862 Flint published an edition of
Harris' work, after the death of Harris. "Mourning cloak" is used in that
book. I suspect that the name is a direct translation from the German,
there being no Camberwell in New England. The evidence, if any would be
found in the correspondence of Harris.
>   One could speculate that like the rook, this animal is attracted to old
carrion. The rook is a traditional omen of disaster, from its attraction to
the aftermath of battle. Perhaps the butterfly, similarly attracted, could
be thought of as a beautiful "mourning cloak".
>At 10:34  12/04/00 -0400, you wrote:
>>I would like to find out why the name Mourning Cloak is used in American
>>Englishas a common name for N. antiopa?  I know that in Britain it is
>>called Camberwell Beauty.  It is names in several European languages
>>which have basically the same meaning as "mourning" or "funeral"
>>"cloak", "cape" or "coat":  (examples: German
>>Trauermantel; Dutch, Rouwmantel; Danish Sorgekabe).  In French it is
>>called Le Morio.  Does the French word have any connection to Latin
>>"morio" which means roughly buffoon, monster, imbecile?
>>I would not be surprised that the name Mourning Cloak was chosen
>>because  of the pattern and color of the wings.  Could someone suggest a
>>good reference on the etymology of this name?
>>Also I would like to know more about the status of this species in
>>Europe.  I read on a web site that N. antiopa is listed as extinct in
>>Netherlands and Belgium, and is listed as endangered in Switzerland.
>>Many thanks in advance,
>>Clyde Kessler

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