Seeing this mass of black caterpillars reminded me of when we first started our native gardens. We found a mess load of larva similar to these devouring a flame acanthus in the back yard. James was disgusted. I didn't know quite what to think. I said okay when he suggested that he cut off the branch and carry it across the street to a vacant field. In the meantime, I got on the Internet and researched. Lo and behold, those were crimson patch (Chlosyne janais) caterpillars! They host on plants in the acanthus family. Needless to say, no more cutting off branches loaded with caterpillars.
Likewise, these hungry cats in the back yard right now are bordered patch (Chlosyne lacinia), which host on sunflower species.
And remember our white-lined sphinx cats in the butterfly gaura? Only two are left. Everyone pretty much ate all the gaura leaves but at least left the flowerbuds. Thanks, guys!
Below is the other remaining white-lined sphinx larva. At least, I'm assuming it's the same species, though it looks QUITE different from the others. Evidently, the species has larval variations. Interesting, eh?