Currently viewing the category: "butterfly caterpillars"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Morning Cloak Caterpillars?
Location: Saint John, NB Canada
July 30, 2014 6:40 am
I found this congregation of caterpillars on the branch of my willow tree last night. This morning they had abandoned that branch, leaving clumps of black, and had relocated to a higher branch. I am located in Saint John, NB Canada and have never encountered these before. Based on what I’ve seen on the internet, I believe they are Mourning Cloak Caterpillars but I was hoping someone could confirm that makes sense. I’m also wondering if these are dangerous and should heed any warnings. I’m not a creepy crawly fan so I haven’t gotten too close but I’ve taken a couple of photos zoomed in as much as possible.
Signature: Jennifer

Mourning Cloak Caterpillar Aggregation

Mourning Cloak Caterpillar Aggregation

Hi Jennifer,
Though you image lacks critical detail, there are enough similarities to presume these are Mourning Cloak Caterpillars.  Your very descriptive account of the sighting supports that supposition as willow is a common food plant.  Mourning Cloak Caterpillars frequently feed in a group, known as an aggregation, a more accepted term for a group of caterpillars than the term congregation.  Mourning Cloak Caterpillars are not considered dangerous, but the spines can cause a painful prick if they are carelessly handled.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: butterflies
Location: Middleville, Michigan
July 25, 2014 12:01 pm
These Beauties are new to my yard this year. I believe they belong to a checkerspot.
Signature: Teri

Baltimore Checkerspot Caterpillar

Baltimore Checkerspot Caterpillar

He Teri,
We agree that your caterpillar looks exactly like a Baltimore Checkerspot Caterpillar,
Euphydryas phaeton, posted to BugGuide, and the chrysalis also looks like a Baltimore Checkerspot Chrysalis posted to BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “The primary larval food source is turtlehead (Chelone glabra), although recent studies have shown that the caterpillars will eat a larger variety of plant species including English plantain (Plantago lanceolata), a common yard weed.”  The plant you have documented with the caterpillar appears to be plantain, based on the images on the USDA site. 

Baltimore Checkerspot Chrysalis

Baltimore Checkerspot Chrysalis

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: caterpillar
Location: Boyce, VA, US
July 21, 2014 10:02 am
Can you help me identify this caterpillar? Found it on some violet family plants.
Signature: Emelford

Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar

Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar

Dear Emelford,
This pretty little caterpillar is a Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar,
Euptoieta claudia, and we quickly identified it thanks to this image posted to BugGuide.  The adult Variegated Fritillary is a lovely orange butterfly.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: is this a orange swallowtail
Location: Grand Junction, CO
July 19, 2014 9:49 am
what is this? my cat brought this in the house today. I took it away from her and put it back outside
Signature: Tracie

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Hi Tracie,
You are correct that this is one of the Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillars, which look very similar, and the orange color indicates that it is getting ready to pupate.  Several species are reported from Colorado according to BugGuide, including the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and the Pale Swallowtail.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: unidentified caterpillar
Location: houston, tx
July 14, 2014 8:53 am
Hi. Found a bunch of these guys yesterday eating my anise plant and nothing else..
People are calling them monarchs, but, I do not agree.
Your input would be most interesting.
Signature: Angela gumerman

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar

Dear Angela,
You are correct to recognize that this is not a Monarch Caterpillar.  It is a Swallowtail Caterpillar, and considering the Texas location and the anise food plant, it might be the caterpillar of an Anise Swallowtail,
Papilio zelicaon, though BugGuide does not report the species as far east as Texas.  The caterpillar of the Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes, looks very similar and it has a more eastern range, and though BugGuide lists food plants as:  “Larvae feed primarily on plants of the carrot family (Apiaceae = Umbelliferae), and some in the Rue Family (Rutaceae). Commonly found on Dill, Parsley, Fennel, Carrot, and Rue in gardens, and Queen-Anne’s-Lace, Poison Hemlock, and Lovage in the wild. They will occasionally be found on Citrus trees”, we believe they will also feed on anise.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: New pet at new home
Location: Encinitas, CA
July 7, 2014 9:02 pm
Hi, my husband and I just moved to Encinitas, CA (San Diego County) today (July 7th) and found this guy welcoming us at our new home, munching on our lemon tree. He’s a cutie (and a little scary with that face!) and we want to let him chow down, but want to make sure he’s not an invasive/destructive species. Any ideas what he is?
Signature: Allison in Encinitas

Orange Dog

Orange Dog

Dear Allison,
This is an Orange Dog, the caterpillar of the Giant Swallowtail, the largest butterfly found in southern California.  Giant Swallowtails are native to the eastern part of North America, however, when citrus was introduced as a crop in Florida, the Giant Swallowtail adapted to feeding on the leaves of the introduced trees.  As the cultivation of citrus spread in North America to include Arizona and Southern California, the Giant Swallowtails expanded their range as the food was readily available.  though not theoretically native to Southern California, the Giant Swallowtail is native to North America, the the damage caused by the feeding caterpillars is relatively insignificant.  If you disturb the Orange Dog, you will likely get to see the osmeterium, a forked organ that releases a scent to deter predators.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination