It’s hard to believe, but this fuschia-colored caterpillar is going to emerge from its cocoon next spring as a relatively dull black and white moth called the White-blotched Heterocampa (Heterocampa umbrata). These caterpillars have two shiny knobs behind their head which are the remnants of “antlers” that the caterpillars have during their first instar. White-blotched Heterocampa larvae change color as they mature and develop. At any given stage, a caterpillar could be purple and fuchsia, or brown and tan or green and white; it is not unusual for them to be mistaken for three different species. The caterpillars can be found feeding on oak leaves. Look for the adult woodland moths at night, when they are attracted to lights. (Thanks to Lily Piper Brown who found two of these amazing caterpillars recently, and her mother, Sadie Brown, who photographed this one.)
Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to http://www.naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com and click on the yellow “donate” button.