Finding a Huge Caterpillar: Another Adventure in Homeschooling

Finding a Huge Caterpillar: Another Adventure in Homeschooling
Is this a Banded Sphinx Caterpillar? Do you know?

The other day as I was cooking dinner, I heard my 6-year-old call, “Mama, you have to come out here right now. We found the biggest worm EVER, and we need to save it.”


That is a call that cannot go unanswered, so I turned off the stove and headed outside. I saw both of my boys leaning over the strip of cement that runs along our retaining wall. My 2-year-old had his face so close to the ground, it looked as though he might be ready to kiss it.


I came up behind them, and what did I see (once my little guy stepped aside, of course)? Indeed, it was a gigantic insect. (Wait, butterflies are insects, but are caterpillars? A caterpillar will be an insect in the future, but they have more than 6 legs, no antennae, no exoskeleton…. I think we need to make a trip to the library, because I have no idea.)


I think my boys were correct in describing it as the Biggest caterpillar we’ve ever encountered (they stopped calling it a worm once they realized it was a caterpillar). It was giant; it almost spanned my palm. And it needed to be relocated away further away from the basketball backboard – otherwise it was in danger of being accidentally squashed.


Finding a Huge Caterpillar: Another Adventure in Homeschooling
The relocated caterpillar in its new [old?] home in the grass.
Because the caterpillar kept trying to climb up the retaining wall, my boys were convinced that it had fallen off the wall and could no longer get back to its home. My sensitive-souled 6-year-old was near tears as he told me, “We have to act quickly, before a big bird comes and eats him.”


So that settled it. We decided to put him in the tall grass on the hillside, and to hope that whatever type of plant he ate was nearby. My 6-year-old picked up the caterpillar, sweetly telling the insect(?!?) that he wasn’t a predator so the caterpillar didn’t need to worry, and placed him on the hillside. Crisis averted.


Now, our next task is to try to figure out what type of caterpillar this was. Do any of you know? My best guess is a Banded Sphinx, but I’m not entirely convinced that this is the right categorization.



Have you ever encountered a giant caterpillar? Do your children also try to save bugs? Do you know whether or not a caterpillar is an insect?

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