Top Photo: Hackberry emperor caterpillar.

Sometimes things just present themselves to you.

While walking through Catch the Wind, a small green caterpillar dropped out of the sky and onto the pavement at my feet. I couldn’t quite place the caterpillar at first. Due to the “forked tail” on the caterpillar I assumed it was one of the prominents, a family of moths (Notodontidae) which consist of 60 some species of eastern forest moths.

Dropped down from the trees above.

After searching through a most helpful guide to eastern caterpillars “Caterpillars of Eastern North America” David L. Wagner, I discovered it was the larva of a brush-footed butterfly, a hackberry emperor. I thought it looked familiar.

Hackberry emperor adult.
Somewhat faded adult from above on gravel road.

The identification makes perfect sense. There are several large hackberry trees nearby. This caterpillar was probably feeding on the hackberry leaves above, dropped down out of the tree and was now searching for a safe place to pupate.

Is this caterpillar heading off to pupate?

As mentioned in earlier posts, hackberry emperor butterflies will land on human passersby to take minerals from their sweat. Consider yourself lucky if it happens to you!

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