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Caterpillars- are these guys good or evil?

Posted by lynne3450 10b (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 10, 12 at 14:00

Hi, suddenly this morning my husband and I discovered 8 three inch caterpillars climbing up the stucco of the Western exposure on our house. We're fairly new gardeners and we haven't seen caterpillars before. They're black and brownish red. I'm going to try to attach pictures because I'd appreciate your help identifying if these are good witch caterpillars or bad witch caterpillars (Wizard of Oz reference there).

We're in Los Angeles, zone 10b, if that tells you anything.

Thank you!
Lynne


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Caterpillars- are these guys good or evil?

How annoying-- I'm not sure if you'll be able to see my photobucket photos- click on "view all" button.

Here's also a wikipedia link to the Nymphalis antiopa that I just found searching online: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nymphalis_antiopa

Does that seem like the right match?

We DO have a big Chinese Elm out front, which it seems to like to feed on.

Do you know if we'll have any problems with these little buggers eating our other plants?

Thank you!


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RE: Caterpillars- are these guys good or evil?

These butterflies (mourning cloak) are very common in southern California. I don't think they'll be a problem. They're not listed as a pest in the references I read.

Here is a link that might be useful: UCCE Integrated Pest Management


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RE: Caterpillars- are these guys good or evil?

They are my favorite butterflies. Congratulations- I have not been able to establish them here. They don't eat much- a few leaves of your willow tree. They do not eat garden shrubs or flowers, just tree leaves.
Renee


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RE: Caterpillars- are these guys good or evil?

Wow, thank you both! Lgteacher, great link, I bookmarked it.

Hosenemesis, how cool! I'm glad that we've attracted a friendly critter to our property! :)


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RE: Caterpillars- are these guys good or evil?

I didn't notice that you said they were on your elm. That's good news- my neighbors have Chinese elms!
Renee


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RE: Caterpillars- are these guys good or evil?

  • Posted by sib5 socal9 (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 13, 12 at 2:55

Raising Butterflies (mourning cloak)
Suitable Host Plants:
Almost any elm, hackberry, willow, or cottonwood,
Birch, or Aspen .... Larval plants include mostly riparian plants like willows, cottonwoods, elm, hackberry and others
It never fails to arouse admiration on account of its brilliant coloration and boldness of pattern." Comstock


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RE: Caterpillars- are these guys good or evil?

Lynne, if you are new to gardening and like butterflies, you might want to look into planting a few milkweed plants too (Asclepias californica), the primary food plant for monarch butterflies. Those caterpillars are quite distinctive and the monarchs need all the help they can get in keeping their population numbers up.

Here is a link that might be useful: Xerces - monarch conservation


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