As a disclaimer, while I am excited about my identification for this moth and likewise hope it is correct, I am only semi-confident and would still consider it a tentative ID. Any expert confirmation one way or another is, of course, as always, welcomed.
This beautiful moth has been sitting in my archive for quite some time. Much like the damsel bug I posted recently, I put off posting this one in part, because I wasn’t sure how to identify it; moths can be very tough. Now, I’m kind of funny about my identifications, in that for certain subjects I really, really like to have them, but for others…well, I can be kind of “meh” and let’s just get it up there even if I only have a very broad ID. The simple reason for this, apart from moodiness, is probably that I play favorites and I fuss over them. This shot, a two image stitch, is one of my favorite moth shots.
Even though I found it at Clarksburg State Park on the siding of the restroom facility — a place I have specifically used to lament the challenges of shooting moths before — this creature was jutting out at a very friendly angle. The photographic results really were more than pleasing enough for me, but now that I have put in a concerted effort to identify it, this shot has ascended to mythological heights of grandeur – literally! Well, actually “literally metaphorically” may be more accurate. I believe what we have here is a Unicorn Caterpillar Moth. The adult loses the very prominent hornlike protuberance of its larval stage, and maybe the metaphorical part loses a bit of juice (and I’m not talking about the formic acid the caterpillar shoots out of its horn!), but it still seems like discovering a secret legend to me.
I highly recommend viewing the full-sized image! It’s a big one!