Check out this little guy, ain't he just the cutest caterpillar you've ever seen?
My kids found it today, they brought it to me and they were like "Mommy! Look what we found!"
I looked at it, and said "what in the world is that?"
So I went on to Google and typed in "weird caterpillars" and researched forever until I came to the conclusion that it is most likely an eastern tiger swallowtail. (other swallowtails look very similar.)
I found the tree that it feeds from. Or at least I think I did. While I was researching I learned that they form a little "silk" and wrap the leaves around them to protect themselves from predators while they eat. And this tree was full of rolled up leaves with "silk" on them (it looks similar to a cobweb) and it was near where my kids found it.
Also, judging by the color, it is ready to form it's chrysalis soon. They "hatch" from a small yellow egg, then eat the egg. At first they are tiny, and look similar to bird droppings as a defense mechanism. They go through about 4-5 stages in this color as they grow larger. Then, they look much like the one in these pictures, except they are green. The "eyes" are another defense mechanism, not their real eyes. Then, as they approach time to build their chrysalis, they turn brown. Isn't that cool! Isn't it just the oddest little bug you've ever seen? Well, me neither, but it is the cutest odd bug I've ever seen.