PITTSFIELD -- Close encounters with wildlife aren't uncommon in the Berkshires. This week, however, one Spaniol Street resident got quite the shock when he spied a four-inch, green caterpillar -- studded with red, blue and yellow knobs and spikes across its body -- creep across the grass behind his wood shed.

The resident, who asked not to be named, said he was equally amazed and slightly turned off by the creature's looks. But he thought it looked interesting enough to coax into a clear plastic container to bring to The Eagle newsroom to be photographed on Monday.

Typically, people should just let wildlife be in the wild. Since this insect had already been moved from its habitat, this reporter transported it to Tom Tyning, a environmental science professor and naturalist at Berkshire Community College.

Tom Tyning, a environmental science professor and naturalist at Berkshire Community College, said this species of silkmoth is the largest specimen he has
Tom Tyning, a environmental science professor and naturalist at Berkshire Community College, said this species of silkmoth is the largest specimen he has seen. It is 4 inches long.

Tyning identified the alien-looking live specimen as a Hyalophora cecropia, a species of silkmoth also known as a robin moth.

"This one is the largest specimen I've seen," Tyning said.

Tyning introduced the newsroom cecropia into a contained habitat lined with four other much smaller cecropias among its fresh black cherry tree leaves. On Tuesday, he said the newsroom cecropia had already begun to spin its winter cocoon.

In the spring, instead of a bright green bug, a beautiful moth will emerge with a red-orange body, brown wings with red, orange and lighter colored markings.


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