Habitat: It is found from Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and Saskatchewan, south to Arizona. In the United States it has been recorded in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia
Status: No Conservation Concerns
Now this is what I call one uuuuugggllyy insect! The caterpillar of Harris’ Three Spot Moth (Harrisimemna trisignata) looks like something that fell out of the Wicked Witch of the West’s nose. It’s dark mottled brown and covered in white sinuous hairs. Why might a caterpillar want to look so ugly you might ask? Well, in this case it’s aiming to look as disgusting to predators as possible by imitating bird poop. I must say that it does a top notch job at achieving this grotesque look.
However, the best is yet to come. If you look in some of the photos you might notice… erhm… what appear to be little pieces of “poop” caught in the ugly caterpillar’s stray hairs. Those are actually its HEADS that it retains from previous molts. It keeps them stacked on its body to ever increase its disgustingness… and to also serve a purpose. You see, when it feels threatened the caterpillar will begin shaking violently. If the encroaching predator isn’t put off by this strange behavior it will then use those disembodied head capsules as WEAPONS! That’s right, it will try and bash the irritant with those ugly old heads. I’m pretty sure that would make me get the hell out of there!! Job well done sir, job well done.
Then, if you take a look at this caterpillars real head you’ll notice that… actually you might not notice much. That’s because the head looks pretty much exactly like the butt of this caterpillar.
I mean, when you can’t even tell your head apart from your butt I think you have definitely crossed over into the “ugly as sin” category of life. But hey, that’s what this ugly caterpillar wanted! Mission accomplished!
At least there is some recourse in the fact that once it outgrows this nasty stage of life it will look a bit nicer as a moth. Now this is a bit easier on the eyes.