A few weeks ago I was walking with a couple of families on a Homestead Tour here at the farm.  We were headed to the orchard when this wonderful creature was spotted meandering across our driveway.  The families were aware of my love for critters of the insect world and pointed him out to me.  How beautiful and so big!!  I’d not seen one of these caterpillars before.  My guests waited patiently while I ran back to the house to grab a jar with a lid.

I carried this caterpillar around with me for the rest of the Homestead Tour.  He was more than ready to be set free when I finally had time to grab my camera.

He’s enormous!  I used my cell phone to give some sort of perspective.  My cell phone is 4″ long.

I love the creative look of this caterpillar but I have to admit, my favorite part was….

….his back end!  It looked like a lobster tail to me.

But those 2 little “fins” are actually legs.  Just look at those tiny little black feet!

A whole bunch of tiny feet and this caterpillar used them efficiently – he moved constantly.

I love the color of his spots – the creativity of insects, from color schemes to anatomical parts is so fascinating to me.

And those bright yellow “horns” – they look like little flames!

All that hair!  I’ll never complain about my bad hair days again 🙂

See those little white eggs attached to the caterpillar?  My guess is that a parasite wasp has laid a few eggs – hopefully not enough to kill this massive caterpillar.

Wanna know what this beautiful creature will turn into when he emerges from his cocoon?

An Imperial Moth!!  I figured it had to be a huge butterfly or moth from the size of this caterpillar.  Ever read the book, Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter?  It’s a fabulous book and because the author was a naturalist, he weaves a great  deal about all kinds of butterflies and moths into his story.  That’s how I remembered the larger moths from this area.

Here’s what an Imperial Moth looks like and a few facts about this incredible caterpillar….

The imperial moth caterpillar is a solitary feeder. It may occur on any of the many host trees, and is usually encountered most commonly in late summer and fall. These large larvae individually can consume a lot of foliage, but are seldom present in sufficient numbers to cause serious damage. Large, colorful, and armed with horns and spines, the caterpillar may look fierce and dangerous; however, it is harmless and does not “sting” or stab man.