I failed to mention earlier that we’re in Greensboro, NC and the little guys are over 2 inches long. This caterpillar, yes, that is a caterpillar, is eating my fringe tree which is very small and can’t take much more! there are five of these and I don’t want to kill them if they are going to turn into some lovely butterfly or moth…. it’s head is to the right, with the three hairy brown balls hanging off of it….lower left is its back end.
Probably 15 letters will go unanswered because we spent so much time trying to identify your bizarre caterpillar. We were relatively sure it was an Owlet Moth in the family Noctuidae, one of the largest moth families. We scoured BugGuide until we located Harris’s Three Spot, Harrisimemna trisignata. The hairy balls are actually “old dry head capsules shed by the earlier instars!” The adults are a very lovely moth, also pictured on BugGuide.