Checkerspot Chrysalides and Caterpillar

Subject: Chrysalis
Location: Virginia
October 2, 2016 9:02 am
I’m wondering what kind of insect makes these chrysalis’s. We have 7 of then hanging from our siding. They formed in late September. Thank you!
Signature: Catie

Brush Footed Butterfly Chrysalis
Checkerspot Chrysalis

Dear Catie,
These are the Chrysalides of a Brush Footed Butterfly in the family Nymphalidae, though they do NOT look like a likely first suspect, the chrysalis of a Mourning Cloak.  We frequently hear of Mourning Cloak Caterpillars leaving the trees upon which they are feeding, often willow or elm, and metamorphosing in the eaves of a nearby home.  Though Mourning Cloaks are Brush Footed Butterflies, the structure of the chrysalis appears to be different from your individuals.  We are going to request assistance from Keith Wolfe with this identification.

Chrysalides of Brush Footed Butterflies
Chrysalides of Checkerspot Butterflies

Great!! I now have 8 chrysalides and found this caterpillar on the same section of siding looking very slow and groggy. Let me know what Kevin says.

Mourning Cloak Caterpillar
Checkerspot Caterpillar

Thanks for sending the caterpillar image Catie.  Though it is quite blurry, it does appear to be a Mourning Cloak Caterpillar, based on images in our archive and on BugGuide.  We hope to hear back from Keith Wolfe regarding why your chrysalides appear to look different, less spiny and structurally different.  Do you have an elm or willow tree near where you have found these chrysalides?

We don’t have any elms or willows near by! It is curious.

According to BugGuide:  “Larvae eat primarily willow (Salix spp.) but also other trees and shrubs including Cottonwood (Populus deltoides), Trembling Aspen (P. tremuloides), American Elm (Ulmus americana), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera), and Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis).”  Do you have any of those trees nearby?

We have quite a few cottonwoods and possibly some hackberry.

Keith Wolfe provides a correction.
Hello Catie and Daniel,
The pictures are less than clear, but nevertheless identifiable as a species of checkerspot, an educated guess being the Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis) . . .
. . . which feeds on many different plants in the aster family.  Females lay large clusters of eggs, with some of the gregarious caterpillars eventually choosing the same nearby protected location to pupate.
Best wishes,

Wow! Thank you! We’ve had a lot of insects around here lately due to the time of year and amount of rain we’ve had. I need you guys around all the time! Frankly, I wish it would get cold so they would all go away  except for the butterflies and chrysalides; I like them!


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