names for mourning cloak

Martin Honey M.Honey at
Thu Apr 13 04:51:18 EDT 2000

>Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000 08:47:26 +0000
>To: bbarnett at
>From: Martin Honey <M.Honey at>
>Subject: Re: names for mourning cloak
>In-Reply-To: <38F4896E.D7AFE400 at>
>At 10:34 AM 12/04/2000 -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.
>Emmet, in The Moths & Butterflies of Britain and Ireland 7(1) (Harley
Books) gives a fascinating chapter on the vernacular names and early
history of British butterflies. In the subsequent text for N. antiopa he
and Bretherton state that the American common name is a translation of the
German 'Trauermantel'. Although the name Camberwell Beauty is the one
currently preferred, it was not it's original common name in Britain, that
goes to Wilkes (1747-49) who called it the Willow Butterfly. It has had
several other names, the Grand Surprise or Camberwell Beauty (both coined
by Harris 1766), White Border (Haworth 1803) and White Bordered (Newman
Martin R. Honey CBiol MIBiol, Lead Curator (Moths)
Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum,
Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, Great Britain
EMAIL:     M.Honey at
Museum web page <>

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