I discovered this fuzzy little guy Saturday afternoon while clearing out a bunch of last year's growth in the front garden. This woolly bear caterpillar, aka 'Isabella Tiger Moth' or Pyrrharctia isabella, was just snoozing undercover until I disturbed his long winter's nap. At first he was all curled up until I fired up the camera and then he apparently figured he'd been 'outed' so to speak. So I was lucky enough to get three quick shots as he headed off to better protection ... I deliberately left a bunch of leaf cover there for him to finish his winter's nap, because it's hard for me to resist these fuzzy little caterpillars I remember fondly from my childhood, when I used to delight in letting them crawl over my hand.
According to the Wiki entry, they're pretty benign caterpillars, dining primarily on grass and weeds, so I said, hey! Send me a couple hundred of them in the front garden, and they'll help get rid of some of the pests we have to deal with every year! I'm just glad they apparently don't target ornamentals ... so the more the merrier I say. The moth they eventually metamorphose into isn't particularly spectacular, but now that I've seen one (see Wiki), I recognize that we always have a lot of them around in the summer months when they lay their eggs, which then hatch into these caterpillars in late summer. Apparently they spend the winter hiding out in the caterpillar form, and then proceed with the rest of their transformation in spring. So, as far as we're concerned, this little guy is given free rein to dine to his heart's content in the front garden until ready to go through the inevitable change ... And when we see the Tiger Moths in the garden later in the summer, I'm sure we'll wonder which one of them was the little guy I so rudely woke up in the spring!