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Wisconsin Native Caterpillars

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) caterpillar

Mourning Cloak Caterpillar

Genus-Species: Nymphalis antiopa

Description: Fully grown larvae are black with several rows of black bristles that cover the body. A distinctive row of red spots extends down the middle of the back.

Chrysalis: Tan or gray brown. Hangs upside down with two horn-like head projections, a "beak," and several thorny tubercles on the body.

Host Plants: Willows including Black willow (Salix nigra), and Silky willow (S. sericea); also American elm (Ulmus americana), Cottonwood (Populus deltoides), Aspen (P. tremuloides), Paper birch (Betula papyrifera), and Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

Habitat: Woodlands, woodland edges, parks, and rarely (despite the photos) in open fields taking nectar.

Comments: Although it is usually seen singly, the Mourning Cloak is a fairly common butterfly throughout Wisconsin and one that should be expected in every county.

Adult Mourning Cloak Butterfly Profile
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