Pierre A Plauzoles ae779 at
Wed May 14 01:12:36 EDT 1997

In a previous article, pbreslin at (Paul Breslin) says:

>I noted several clusters of caterpillars at the foot
>of an oak tree in my yard.  The caterpillars were dark
>brown and spiney.  There were approximately 12 per
>cluster, three clusters.  They were just clustered together
>and not moving.
>What were they?  Why do they cluster together?

I am not certain, of course (to begin with, the details in your description
are pretty brief), but I would start by looking in a reference work - if
I could find the right one! - for saturniid caterpillars.

1/ Mourning cloak butterfly caterpillars don't gather like that when they
   are ready to pupate (which is what I think is happening).
2/ There are many caterpillars with spines among the saturniids.
3/ Many saturniids eat oak foliage.
4/ Many saturniids drop to the base of the tree or close to it to pupate.

Pierre Plauzoles   ae779 at
Canoga Park, California

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