Here are some of the creatures attracted to the host plants that I include in my garden as an invitation for the butterflies and moths. The first is the hagmoth caterpillar in an unusual color. The moth it metamorphoses into is small and not often seen. The caterpillar is usually brown with long hair, said to imitate a cast off tarantula skin.
The Spicebush Butterfly is a beautiful black swallowtail. The host plants are spice bush and sassafras. My spicebush is only 7 inches tall, but it had 3 caterpillars on it. I moved them to a small sassafras tree so they could continue developing. This morning, when I checked, there were two more small caterpillars besides this one which is mature and should change into a chrysalis soon.
The last caterpillar is a new one on me. It is called the Milkweed Tussock caterpillar and I found it on my Swamp milkweed. They have so many hairs of different colors that they look like little bits of yarn moving around. At first, they are all clustered together where the eggs were laid and as they mature, they move off. The moth they metamorphose into is a medium-size tan moth with a large yellow abdomen with black spots on it.
This is the best time to observe caterpillars, so get out in your garden and start looking. Better yet, take a child with you. They love creepy crawlies as much as I do.