what is this caterpillar?

Asked September 20, 2015, 9:26 PM EDT

Found this large caterpillar in my front yard today. It was about 2 inches long and as thick as a small cigar. Can you tell me what it is? A yellow jacket was attacking it

Prince George's County Maryland wildlife imperial moth insect id imperial moth caterpillar

1 Response

This is the caterpillar of the magnificant Imperial moth. Not only does it have horns, and appear in colors from green to brown to tan and even red, but its backend is flat and very unusual for a caterpillar. Probably to scare off predators.

The moth is huge, and so the caterpillar grows to a large size. It pupates in the soil over the winter before emerging as a moth in spring. This time of year the mature caterpillars are wandering around looking for a good place to spend the winter.