Are These Minnesota Caterpillars Safe to Touch?
At first glance this guy looks pretty threatening.
The creepy crawly in the photo above is the caterpillar form of a Hyalophora cecropia, or a cecropia moth. It is North America's largest native moth, and a member of the giant silk moth family. They can be found all across North America and the larvae are mostly found on maple, cherry, and birch trees.
Let's talk more about the larvae (or caterpillar) form of this creature, just in case your kids find one and surprise you with it.
They stay in the larvae form for five weeks, hitting a different stage of development each week. The first week they are black with small hairs. The second week they are a yellow/green color. The last three weeks are what you see above, when they turn green/blue and develop tubercles that are yellow, orange and blue. They reach maturity in Autumn (now) and are typically four-ish inches long.
But are they safe to handle?
This species is stable. Cecropia caterpillars are found in such low abundances, they don’t cause significant damage to ornamental landscaping.
So if you find one of these green guys this fall, don't be scared! They won't harm you, or give you a reason to harm them. They turn into moths that can be five-seven inches across! Pretty cool!
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