Walking the Lake Conestee leg of the Swamp Rabbit Trail this week, I saw the biggest, strangest caterpillar I’d ever seen. Five inches long and as thick as my thumb.
Bright colors in nature sometimes mean poison, so I didn’t touch. Instead, I scooped it up in a large leaf and brought it home to the studio for a photo session. Then I released it into the ivy that grows creekside behind Mills Mill and googled “huge horned caterpillar.”
A Hickory Horned Devil it’s called. Soon to become a Royal Walnut Moth, scientific name Citheronia regalis. Not poisonous, not a devastator of suburban gardens, not at all rare. As harmless and common as it is frightening to behold.
So much for first impressions.
(Insert stock observations about differences between our public and private faces.)