One of the last things you expect to see on top of snow is a caterpillar, but it can happen. Certain species can withstand the cold of northern New England winters and remain active throughout the colder months. Among them is the “Winter Cutworm,” or larval stage of the Large Yellow Underwing Moth (Noctua pronuba), a relatively common Noctuid (a family of moths that typically has dull forewings and pale or colorful hind wings).
These larvae actively feed on the roots and foliage of plants (grasses, weedy plants and a variety of garden vegetables) through the winter, and on warm days can appear on top of the snow. They pupate and emerge as adults in spring and early summer. (Photo: Winter Cutworm that appears to have been caught short by a sudden drop in temperature.)