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One enormous caterpillar!

September 14, 2009

giant caterpillarChers Amis,

Is this not the most stupendous caterpillar you have ever seen! Pippin found this crawling in the pine straw by the edge of our driveway Saturday afternoon when he and his dad returned from the Great Lake Clean-up.  He burst  into my kitchen  without a “Hi, Mom, we’re back,” and proclaimed that he had found a “huge caterpillar – the biggest EVER!”

Big yawn. Okay, I am tad jaded about caterpillars au moulin.  Caddie and company COLLECT tent caterpillars during their infestations and wear them about, dangling from hair, shoulders, and fingers. So Pippin’s announcement received a distracted, “Mmm hmm, that’s nice.  Please go wash your hands for lunch.”  Short for, “Can’t you see I am cooking and I rather doubt your giant caterpillar story.”

Pippin insisted I come look and bring the camera.  Hmm. That is usually a signal of veracity.  This is what I saw – a hairy, brown, 6 inch long by 1 inch wide caterpillar with black horns and bright neon yellow/white spots. imperial moth caterpillar close up

Of course Caddie was holding it.  Dare I say, petting its furry back.  Now little caterpillars are one thing; massive beasts like this are another.  At first I was afraid its bristles could sting or irritate Caddie, and then that the handling would not do the caterpillar any good.  He looked rather inert – until we put him down.  Could he move!  Quickly.

After a few obligatory snapshots for scale and documentation we released him into the underbrush.  Looking back, it might have been interesting to contain him, keep him well stocked with a diet of sweet gum leaves and watch him pupate and emerge next spring.  But perhaps it is best to appreciate these creatures from afar.  Somehow having a bratwurst-sized caterpillar around seems odd even au moulin.

Here is a photo I took of an adult Imperial moth (Eacles imperialis) a few years ago at Red Top Mountain State Park in Georgia.  Adult moths can have a wingspan  from 3 1/8 – 6 7/8 inches (8 – 17.4 cm!


Pippin and I will be doing a bit of nature study on caterpillars this morning.  I found this excellent caterpillar Anatomy diagram put out by the USGS. Caterpillar Anatomy.  I like that it is much more realistic than typical caterpillar coloring sheets. For a more information on the Imperial moth  click over to Tales from the Butterfly Garden’s Imperial Moth page or a  slide show of the development of the Imperial moth from egg to moth at their Scrapblog Have a great day and never doubt your nature nuts when they tell you they have made an incredible find.


Outdoor Wednesday logoPS – For more outdoor experiences click over to A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday. You’ll be glad you did!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. lapazfarm permalink
    September 15, 2009 12:03 pm

    Wowie!!!!! That’s one huge caterpillar!!!!

  2. September 15, 2009 12:18 pm

    Isn’t it though. Almost unnatural. Very interesting though!

  3. September 16, 2009 1:49 pm

    Guauuuu caterpillar!!!!
    Very interesting.

  4. September 16, 2009 2:30 pm

    Your photos are amazing. I guess I had forgotten how brave motherhood requires us to be :-). That IS a caterpillar. I hope you are having a great day.

  5. Bonnie permalink
    September 16, 2009 3:47 pm

    That caterpillar is enormous, 6’. Very interesting story. So nice you took the time to investigate this with your son, and shared it with us. Thanks.

  6. September 17, 2009 1:36 am

    Great shot of this guy.

    Nice narration — you really drew me in.

    If you get a chance please stop by and say hi!

    TTFN~~Claudia ♥ ♥

  7. September 17, 2009 11:26 am

    he is huge! what a fantastic find and a wonderful story.

  8. September 17, 2009 12:10 pm

    how amazing!

  9. September 20, 2009 4:37 pm

    Wow, Marjorie!! That is one HUGE caterpillar!! Did you ever find out what that feathery thing was? I’m still wondering about that thing! Thanks for the suggestion for my grandson’s toy designs! I hadn’t thought about that! Happy week!…Debbie

  10. September 20, 2009 4:58 pm

    Debbie, I never got a final ID on my mystery creatures. I believe that it was some sort of immature seed that fell from one of the trees that overhang our back deck. When it dried out it was similar to a dandelion fluff attached to a tiny black seed. I really would like to know what it was though. Maybe I will e-mail the photo’s to the extension service. They will forward it to someone at UGA who could help with the id. We get a lot of very odd wildlife *autour de ce moulin! *

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