It’s squishy and voluminous, bulbous-headed and bulgy. Plus, it engulfed every single leaf of a poor little potted chile, covering the soil below with drifts of black frass, but… it’s REALLY GREEN, and I think it’s pretty spectacular, in its way. It’s a hornworm — I’m not sure which — which makes it the larva of one of the Sphinx moths. Two days after I took this photo (do click to enlarge, I loaded a file as monstrously huge as this caterpillar is), it disappeared: it must have plopped to the ground below the plant to bury itself a few inches down in the soil to pupate. Then it will emerge as a moth. I’m trying to imagine what it looks like when a full-grown sphinx moth — a creature of the night air — emerges from dirt. Imagine!
Check the sparse, sparkly polyester-looking hairs on its back, the bristles on the “feet” of its fleshy, blunt prolegs. And the golden “portholes”. What a machine! We’re watering the now leafless chile plant, hoping the frass dissolves and the plant can re-process the nutrients from its own devoured, caterpillar-bypassed leaves to grow more. (Photo A.Shock)