We misidentified our caterpillar! Thanks to Michael from Wormspit who let us know our caterpillar is a Hyalophora columbia, which is often mistaken for a Cecropia. As we delved deeper into our research we found some clues that we should have looked at before making a final identification of our caterpillar.
1. Cecropias host mainly on fruit trees. Our caterpillar was found out in the desert brush 5 miles from the nearest fruit trees which happens to be our orchard.Thank goodness the Columbia doesn’t feed on fruit trees!
2. Cecropias range mostly east of the Rocky Mountains. We are too far west, which is why there were no sightings listed in Nevada. There are, however, no sightings marked for our part of the state for the Columbia Moth so we can still send in our photos and other data, which the girls are thrilled about.
Thank you also for the book recommendations. We have read The Girl of the Limberlost. In fact, I happen to be reading it again right now. I have put The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate on my list to read – thanks Lauri!