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Old 06-12-2013, 01:26 AM   #7
KC Clark
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Central Ohio
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Mourning cloaks are part of the true brushfoots (subfamily Nymphalinae). Off the top of my head, I'd say all the caterpillars in that subfamily have spiky caterpillars. The spikes have all been soft and harmless in my experience.

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Originally Posted by Bulucanagria View Post
Now I have to emphasize that none of the references to these cats being venomous are from academic sources, so that makes the designation suspect.
I went through my academic sources (my butterfly books collection). I found one reference to a ventral gland on the first segment where the caterpillar can release a chemical defense. So, if you are afraid of swallowtail caterpillars and their scary osmeteriums, I guess you can add mourning cloaks to your list.

Like I said before, I picked up lots of mourning cloaks. If they had some chemical defense they were unleashing, it did not bother me or my scouts.

I raise a lot of polyphemus moth caterpillars. They have a few defenses that are harmless to us but can be effective against predators. First, they click their mandibles together. Then they throw up their last meal. Finally, they will force a liquid through their skin so your hand becomes wet. Fortunately, you have to really tick them off before they start emitting bodily fluids.
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