Can someone help me identify a caterpillar which is suddenly everywhere? It's about 2 inches long, primarily black with some striping. I don't want to be stomping them if they turn into a butterfly.
Is it hairy? It could be a tent caterpillar or a gypsy moth caterpillar. Tent caterpillars prefer cherry and apple trees (among others), gypsy moth caterpillars like oaks, maples, hickories, poplars. Both are destructive to trees, although in NJ gypsy moth populations are supposed to be waning in most of the state--not my section, unfortunately.
Here is a link that might be useful: caterpillars
I found a better link that shows both caterpillars.