Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Giant Caterpillar of the Giant Leopard Moth

For the past two years, this has been the time of the fuzzy caterpillars. I’m used to seeing hundreds of furry little wormy guys hustling across the road at work and making their way through the grass.  This year, I’ve hardly seen any, but the best one was this impressive beast:


Giant leopard moth caterpillar, Hypercompe scribonia

That’s a giant leopard moth caterpillar, and they live up to the “giant” in their name!  That caterpillar was a good 3 inches long, and quite thick with all of those hairs circling its body.  Shortly after I took this shot, it curled up into a little ring in my hand, a defense mechanism they’re known for that tucks their soft underparts safely sway inside the stiff black hairs.  These caterpillars lack stinging hairs and don’t bite, so they rely on those hairs and the red bands between the hairs (warning coloration!) to deter predators.

Wish I’d seen more of these this year, but this has been a very strange year overall.  Here’s hoping things will be back to normal next year!


Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth

8 thoughts on “Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Giant Caterpillar of the Giant Leopard Moth

  1. We had so few butterflies this year. In a usual year I see dozens of swallowtails, this year I saw very few. In the Autumn in previous years our shoreline bay areas are usually aswarm with butterflies…not this year. I hope all the butterflies and moths make a comeback next year.

    • I saw lots of butterflies and moths in my area, just different butterflies and moths than usual. For example, we had a lot of monarchs this year, but they normally arrive in April and keep moving north, then we’ll see a bunch in the fall during the migration. This year, they arrived in June and stayed the whole summer! We ended up with very few swallowtails and lots of things we don’t normally see. Interesting year! But I do hope that you get your butterflies back next year.

  2. Splendid specimen. I used to have a soft spot for fluffy caterpillars until a local invasion of brown tail moths brought a lot of people up in massive rashes – now I prefer photos!

    • I only pick this one up and a few others because I am 100% sure that I’m not going to react to it! Always better to be safe than sorry with caterpillars in my mind! I generally avoid the fuzzy ones, regardless of how cute and cuddly they look

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