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Gardener shares staggering photo of the oversized pest they found in their plants: '[That's] gonna grow up to be a pterodactyl'

Intersecting pairs of blue tubercles ran along both sides of its enormous body.

Caterpillar in a garden

Photo Credit: iStock

Caterpillars are amazing creatures, metamorphosing into moths and butterflies and playing a vital role in a healthy ecosystem.

They can also be shockingly huge, as one Redditor showed last week in a post on the r/AbsoluteUnits subreddit. 

Photo Credit: u/Liveborngable40 / Reddit

"This absolute unit of a caterpillar," the poster wrote above a photo of a brightly colored caterpillar the length of their palm. 

One commenter said it was the caterpillar stage of a cecropia moth, which is the largest moth in North America. The nocturnal insects live in hardwood forests east of the Rocky Mountains and have a wingspan of five to seven inches.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

No wonder the caterpillar was so giant.

In fact, cecropia caterpillars are the second-largest caterpillars on the continent after the hickory horned devil. The latter can be found in deciduous forests in the eastern United States.

Hornworm caterpillars can be giants as well — and commonly pop up in similar posts.

There are thousands of species of caterpillars around the world, and they are an important food source for birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. They aid in pollination, seed dispersal, and nutrient cycling.

And while certain caterpillars can be pesky to gardeners, some species can help control other insects that feed on crops.

To get rid of the troublesome invertebrates, green thumbs can pick them off plants by hand and attract predatory insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps.

In this instance, the poster seemed content to place the bulbous cecropia caterpillar in the palm of their hand for a glamor shot. Some of its silk web was tangled up in its face, and pairs of blue tubercles ran along both sides of its enormous body.

Four orange tubercles with black spikes were perched atop its head, and no fewer than 15 yellow tubercles with black spikes were visible on its back. The protuberances provide support for hairs and help with protection from predators.

This one may be able to handle itself, however.

Redditors certainly were able to handle bringing jokes in the comment section.

"That things gonna grow up to be a pterodactyl," one user wrote.

Another said it was a "real life Hungry Hungry Caterpillar."

"That pokemon got some pokemons on its back," said a third.

And someone joked: "When nature makes spiky slow moving bugs with bright colors you know they're the most delicious."

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