Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Daniel and the Giant...Something

Photo by DTM

Remember James and the Giant Peach?  Some insects and other dirt dwellers ate magic green crystals and then grew to gigantic proportions.  Then they ate into the giant peach which had formed when the roots of a barren peach tree took up those same crystals.   (There was a less than stellar 1996 movie, but the book by Roald Dahl was one of my childhood favorites.)

No magic crystals in my backyard that I know about, but that's what I thought of when I saw what my son found back there.  It would take quite a peach to house this monster!  I found out that he's an imperial moth caterpillar (Eacles imperialis).

Photo by DTM.  No endorsement for Camel or smoking implied by this mom, but his cigarette pack does give you an idea of the size of the caterpillar.  

Host plants for imperial moth caterpillars include pine, oak, maple and sweet gum, all of which are represented in my backyard, but this is the first one of these we've ever seen.  Their native range is throughout the eastern US and into the mid-west.

He's scary looking isn't he?  But, fortunately, harmless -- no sting, no bite.  Have you run across one in your garden?

~*~

Take a look at some excellent macros of the imperial caterpillar and moth in this post by Lazy B Farm  -  Quick! Get a Jar!

Kylee Baumle's posts at Our Little Acre were the first to show up on Google when I was searching for the name of this animal.  She found an imperial moth in her yard and took it inside where it proceeded to escape containment -- and then lay eggs all over her dining room!  She collected the eggs, kept them humid and warm, and documented everything with photos, from moth to egg to "poop machine."  Start here and follow Link Within at the bottom of each post for more, or check her archive.  There are several fascinating posts.

10 comments:

  1. Pretty bizarre!! (I think of James and the Giant Peach every time I drive by Gaffney!)
    that is one big cat, very gnarly looking as well.

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    1. that really is a giant peach in gaffney, but i always think of rear ends! wonder why they made the crack face the highway? (i think it's called a suture in botanical terms.) :)

      here's a link for anyone who might not have seen it before: http://www.flickr.com/photos/64900616@N04/5920395562/

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  2. Oh my gosh--that is a seriously huge caterpillar! Fabulous photo--although a little creepy, I must say! James and the Giant Peach was my oldest son's favorite movie when he was about 7--I loved the book, but I really didn't care for the movie. Of course, at that age, he watched it over...and over...and over... Thanks for the caterpillar ID!

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    1. i was glad my son didn't mind letting me use the photos. i loved the perspective in that first one...looks especially huge there. the size made it easier than usual to ID.

      dan liked the movie, too, but i was really disappointed with it after loving the book for so long.

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  3. Mother of Pearls!!! That is one large caterpiller!

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  4. Wow. I'm not sure what I would do if one of those was on a plant of mine.

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    1. i know! i'm kind of glad it was my son who found it first...wouldn't have wanted to be surprised by that!

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  5. I am posting caterpillars right now as well, but I must say mine are not nearly as ugly.

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    1. haha! imperial moth wins ugly caterpillar contest...cool! :)

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