Neon Green Caterpillar

IMG_4850caterpillarCrop480We were just able to get across the raging creek as it began to calm down after last week’s surge of Tuesday rain.  The morning was somber and foggy, and the world had already begun its autumn slide towards the monotone drabness of winter.

But as we stepped down in the creek bed, we were startled by such gaudy, brilliant chartreuse that it almost hurt our eyes. Add to that that this caterpillar was oddly translucent so that it appeared to emit light against the dark rocks of the streambed.

It is a Luna Moth caterpillar. I wondered if this one would pupate and become a moth before cold weather would end its short life. Or will the pupae have the good sense to hang on a branch somewhere, and if it can avoid freezing, hatch out in April when the world becomes hospitable again.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. What a treat, thanks Fred! We had a Luna Moth clinging to the siding of our workshop earlier this year. An amazingly large fellow, with great wing art. Not a hint of luminescent yellow/green as featured in the caterpillar. As with we humans, the bright teenage colors fade and disappear by adulthood.