Location: Denison, Texas
April 5, 2012 6:08 pm
I have seen about 13 of this in one afternoon crawling around. Is this a mourning cloak? Can they hurt you?
You are correct. This is a Mourning Cloak Caterpillar. They can often be present in great numbers as you have witnessed. According to the Auburn University webpage on Stinging Caterpillars: “Several species of nymphalid larvae bear conspicuous bristled or multi-branched spines similar to those found on some stinging caterpillars. One species, the spiny elm caterpillar (larva of the mourning cloak butterfly), is reported to possess urticating spines.” According to BugGuide: “Caution: Do not touch the larva; its spines may cause a stinging sensation if handled.”