May 21, 2011 8:11 pm
My husband and I found this moth/caterpillar in our front yard. I’ve never seen anything like it and can’t find any pictures resembling it on the internet. My pictures do not do it justice! It was bright (almost neon) orange and yellow and about 3 – 4 inches long. It never flew (extremely tiny wings), but just pulled its belly along the grass. The pictures were taken in Charlotte, NC on May 21, 2011 between 8:00 and 8:30pm.
Your impression that this moth was somewhat caterpillar-like can be easily explained. This is a newly metamorphosed Regal Moth or Royal Walnut Moth. Its wings have not yet expanded. The caterpillar, known as a Hickory Horned Devil, is the largest North American Caterpillar, and when it is ready to transform, it buries itself and forms a pupa. After overwintering, the adult emerges and crawls to the surface. You were fortunate enough to encounter this Regal Moth at that point in its transformation.