Question of the Week – Imperial Moth

This week, the question was: What will this giant caterpillar become when it grows up?

Underside of the imperial moth caterpillar.

This is the caterpillar of the imperial moth (Eacles imperialis). This is one of our largest moths in the Southeast. The caterpillars feed on the foliage of pines, oaks, maples, sweetgum, and sassafras as they develop. When they are ready to pupate, they climb down from the trees and burrow into the soil. When pupation is complete, they emerge from the soil and expand their wings before flying away. Here is a great page from UF with more info.

Imperial moth resting on an industrial hemp plant.

This week’s question is from Midlands Extension Agent Justin Ballew with caterpillar photos from Lexington County farmer Chris Dawkins.

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