CLOSED: Some sort of caterpillar

Lancaster, CA

Hi all,

Hope you can help with this. i've done SOME internet looking but seem to keep coming up with the same group of sites.

Heres the culprit

Black and grey caterpillar with 5 sets of orange feet. It has spikes coming out all directions but the bottom and appears to have a bit of an orange stripe down the center. At present it's about 3" long.

We saw this beasty with it's siblings munching away on the neighbor up the streets weeping willow tree.

This is hi desert Southern California area.

Lancaster, CA

oops. forgot to add that the closest I came to it is a Buck Moth larvae. That looks fairly close to it but not nearly close enough. What we're seeing does have that sparkly kinda "fresh dew" look about it but BML doesn't seem to have the orange features.


Westbrook, ME(Zone 5a)

Try a search for the Mourning Cloak (nymphalis antiopa). The picture in my book looks like it might be the culprit - and willow is its larval food. Some other butterflies that use willow as a host are the Western admiral, Lorquin's admiral, viceroy, and the Western tiger swallowtail.

Lancaster, CA

Yep!! That's it alright, thanks very much. now I have to read and find out if it does enough damage to warrant anything further or if it's just gonna eat 1/5 of the tree then be a beautiful butterfly for us

How did you find out what it was is my question now. what did you use as keywords for your search?


Westbrook, ME(Zone 5a)

I cheated - I have a butterfly book. I looked up which ones use willow as larval food first. I used DOGPILE ~ ~ for a search on nymphalis antiopa. It searches all the major search engines from one site. You have to weed through some garbage & repetition but usually it brings up what you're looking for.

Lancaster, CA

Cheated huh? Well I'm glad you found it. LOL. We didn't know if it was poisonous (the stickers look kinda wicked) or whether it could really do amazing amounts of damage or what. Now it's become and extra credit project for my son

Thank you very much for your help


Elizabethton (Stoney, TN(Zone 6b)

Poppysue, you are GREAT at identifying practically anything!~! I'm impressed. GL

She's amazing, isn't she? If there was an award for the best identifier, she would win hands down.


Westbrook, ME(Zone 5a)

Shucks you guys!! I think it's fun to figure them out. Actually.... it drives me crazy not to know what a plant is. My interest started with wild flowers & herbs and it went on from there. I have lots of books to help me so it's not like all this comes from the top of my head. Flowers, butterflies & birds all go hand in hand ~ Right?

Cedaredge, CO(Zone 5b)

I have a caterpillar infestation in my Hackberry tree that is scarey looking. They sound like they might be mourning cloak larvae but if they are a destructive moth type I want to destroy them. These are grey and black with long spikey black hairs,orange spots down the back and red orange feet. I am in Western Colorado at about 7000 feet. Can you help me?

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