Ijams educator Sabrina DeVault found this one on a Alexandria laurel just before Sunday's plant sale.
The saddleback caterpillar is the larva of a species of slug moth native to the east. The adult moth is rather brown and nondescript.
The caterpillars are primarily chartreuse with cocoa brown at both ends and a prominent, white-ringed brown dot in the center that resembles a saddle, hence the name, although they are also known as "packsaddles" for the same reason.
The caterpillars have a pair of fleshy, bristly "horns" at either end, and these, like much of the body are covered with urticating hairs that secrete an irritating venom. Stings can be very painful, so beware.
Ouch! Nature can have a bite. But it's an excellent survival strategy.
When I was kid, I was once stung. I still remember it and developed a fear of anything green with a saddle, including chartreuse horses.
- Text and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales