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Mourning Cloak butterfly cocoon – 7 in fact. Are they dead…?

So, I live in a gated apartment community and there are a lot of mean kids here who would probably kill the caterpillars and mess with the cocoons – so I’ve saved 2 caterpillars already, the rest seemed to just like our porch and cocooned there.

The caterpillars are black with black spines and red spots, of what an hour of researching on the internet told me are the caterpillars of the Mourning Cloak butterfly.

One ‘hatched’ already, and I got to see it hanging there to dry, and it hung around on the balcony above ours and when I came back from checking the mail, it flew over my head – a beautiful black butterfly, with orangeish-gold lining it’s wings.

Anyway, there are 7 more cocoons – ones that have been there for quite a bit now. Maybe two or three weeks.
They’re a tan colour with small little spikes, and they -are- untouched (I don’t wanna bother em and mess up the stage or something) but they’ve been there for a while.

My questions are:
1. I wanna know HOW to tell if they’re ready to ‘hatch’ or if they’re dead.
I check them several times daily so it’s very unlikely that I missed the butterflies leaving and they’re just empty cocoons…

2. There is also a daddy long legs spider that lives up in the corner – I doubt it’s even alive, but should I leave it be?
It hasn’t moved one bit for a week or two now, actually…

And 3. Do these caterpillars sting? They sure LOOK like they do…I haven’t touched one, I have a deep fear of insects, the two I saved I did so with a pencil and a leaf for them to crawl on…
I read somewhere on a blog that the writer of said blog read somewhere that they sting.

I wanna know, just in case. Definitely won’t stop me from saving them if they do. I just won’t pick em up <3

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Comments

One Response to “Mourning Cloak butterfly cocoon – 7 in fact. Are they dead…?”

  1. noodles

    Hi there,

    Look here for further details regarding the lifecycle and info on these beautiful butterflies.

    http://www.naturenorth.com/spring/bug/mcloak/Fmcloak.html

    It appears to be pretty informative. Hope the others hatch soon.

    Have a great summertime and thank you for helping our planet’s wildlife :-)

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