19th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
Polyphemus caterpillar, from below

Polyphemus Moths (Antheraea polyphemus) are large silkmoths the size of a small bat. Their caterpillars are also quite large, and not too difficult to find. One night, while out hunting caterpillars in a forest, I encountered this Polyphemus caterpillar. I wanted to show the powerful legs that help the caterpillar to grip branches and foliage with force enough that they can ride out fierce storms and gales. Non-inchworm caterpillars have four sets of medial prolegs - in the middle of the body - and these powerful legs do the heavy gripping. The feet are like little suction cups, and ringed with hooks known as crochets. For this image, I show three of the four sets of legs. The caterpillar's lime-green body seems to glow from within, an artifact of the flash that I used.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 09.2021
Date Uploaded: 11.2021
Photo Location: Friendship, Ohio, United States of America
Camera: Canon EOS R5
Copyright: © Jim McCormac