Class: Insecta (Hexapoda)
Family: Saturniidae (silk moths)
This is a caterpillar of Samia cynthia, the cynthia moth. It is originally from Asia, but was introduced to the eastern US, when they wanted to start silk farms. It is only one of the moths used to produce silk, and not considered as 'domesticated' as some of the other members of the saturniidae family. I am particularly proud of this picture, because I raised this cynthia from eggs deposited in my classroom (the adults had been bought for the students to look at). It was a super fun experience, as my summer class got to see them grow from little black fuzzy caterpillars to these great honkers about the size of my middle finger. I got to spend a lot of time taking leaves off of the various trees on campus and from my 'garden' to see what they would eat. (When we got the adult cocoons they were labeled with the wrong species name, so I could not just look up their diet on the web) They spun a cocoon during class in the fall, and many of my students would periodically check up on them during class (not bad for a non-majors course!).