Please tell me what this is. My cat found it on the ground under our big elm tree but would not touch it. In North Carolina
Your photo is of the Imperial moth caterpillar as Megan said.
These are found in eastern US, Ontario and Quebec.
This is one of the silkmoth (Saturniidae family) caterpillars…most get very large … rather spectacular in color and size!
There are two color forms of caterpillars the green ones and the orangish brown ones. When we see the brownish coloration and they are wandering on the ground… it usually means it is searching for a place to pupate in the soil for the winter.
This caterpillar feeds on leaves of bald cypress, basswood, birch, cedar, elm, hickory, honeylocust, maple, oak, pine, sassafras, sweetgum, sycamore, and walnut.
It s interesting to note that adults emerge before sunrise and mate after midnight the next day. Adult moths do not feed. Moths do come to lights at night.
This caterpillar will not sting.
Chris – dutch elm disease is a disease carried from tree to tree by the elm bark beetle. It is a tiny brown beetle. The imperial moth caterpillar will not cause the disease nor will they cause damage to your elm trees. They eat a little foliage but do not eat enought to hurt the tree…they are not a pest.