These little guys…
Found these little guys climbing out of my Chinese elm tree, here in Southern California. I watched for over an hour as at least 15 climbed down, one by one. Can you tell me what kind they are, and what they feed on? Thanks.
This is a Mourning Cloak Butterfly Caterpillar. They were feeding on the leaves of your Chinese Elm and they left the tree to find a good place to pupate. Mourning Cloaks are lovely purplish black butterflies with cream colored wing edges and blue spots.
Wow! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my e-mail. Our entire evening had been centered around these caterpillars. My children and I carefully collected them as they came out of the tree thinking we would watch then release them as butterflies. Since I wasn’t sure what they fed on and didn’t want them to starve, I placed them back at the base of the tree. I tried looking online several times to identify, but had no luck. I even woke in the middle of the night thinking of them….funny. Anyway, it was SO NICE to find your e-mail with the answer, and the kids (2 & 4) were amazed with the pictures and facts I was able to then find on the internet. Thank you for helping keep our interest “peaked”. All that right in our own back yard! So cool. Take care.