April 7, 2010
I’m wondering that kind of caterpillar this is, and what type of moth or butterfly it will turn in to.
I found it in my back yard, in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona.
It’s April (Spring, 85+ degrees today), and the caterpillar is about 1″ long.
I moved it twice so that my dog wouldn’t eat it… and this morning found it hanging from my back door readying itself for cocoon.
Thank you for your help.
Phoenix, AZ

Mourning Cloak Caterpillar

Dear LMK,
Your caterpillar is a Mourning Cloak Caterpillar.  Mourning Cloaks are lovely purplish black butterflies with uneven cream colored borders and blue spots.  They are found throughout North America as well as Eurasia in the northern hemisphere.  In England, the Mourning Cloak is known as the Camberwell Beauty.  As we were doing research for our book, we learned that the Mourning Cloak Caterpillar is known as the Spiny Elm Caterpillar because if is often found feeding on elm tree leaves, though it will also feed on the leaves of willow.  It will not spin a cocoon, but it will form a chrysalis.

Mourning Cloak Caterpillar ready to metamorphose

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