I had to go to the post office today to mail off my taxes, nothing exciting there. When I got home and got out of the truck I spotted what at first glance I thought was a bottle brush in the grass next to the driveway. On closer examination I discovered it was a HUGE black fuzzy caterpillar! It's hairs are a very dark, glossy black, and when it's curled up in a defensive posture there are bright red bands between its body segments.
Knowing that some fuzzy caterpillars can be rather unpleasant to touch due to a toxin in the hairs I picked it up with the sleeve of my jacket and carried him in the house. Into a canning jar it went, and then I started looking it up on the internet. Seems this 3" long critter is a Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar. They overwinter as caterpillars, and due to the size of this one I'm guessing it was born last year and may be getting close to pupating. I set up the critter enclosure with some willow branches and a wild violet plant as these seem to be favored foods according to the info I found online. They are very nocturnal, eating and moving around almost exclusively at night. I'll see how it does tomorrow, and if it's eating well I plan to keep it until it metamorphoses and then set it free so it can find a mate.