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Yellow caterpillar with black hairs sticking out in 3 places

Today I found an approx 6.5 cm long hairy catepilar as it was walking along a sidewalk. As an extreme amateur, I don't know much about insects but I like to know what lives in my neighborhood. This critter has a light green body especially the underbelly, a slight orangish tinge to its dullish yellow hair. The hair along the majority of the body looks like a buzz-cut hairstyle but there are longer finer hairs protruding along the lower edges of the abdomen and at both ends of the body. Near the rear end there is a single long black hair tuft approx 1 cm long protruding from its back. There is a black stripe from the rear end to this tuft which is the longest hair on the body. There is a matched pair black tufts near the head approximately 1 cm behind the head, and another pair about 1 cm behind the first set. I've been searching on-line for images to try to identify this critter and found something similar, the Banded Tussock Moth - Hodges#8203 (Halysidota tessellaris). But my caterpillar has 3 sets of black hairs and the picture does not show the long central set at the back end. Am I looking at a close relative? I will try to upload a picture of this guy if I can figure out how to do it with my new camera and my iMac. Also, where is the best place to let this guy loose? What does it eat? Obviously not sidewalks!

it is getting alot better and thank you sir:]
we love our animals as well as insects

Dagger moth caterpillar!
I have exactly what you are describing and it is a dagger moth caterpillar. It will cocoon and turn into a dagger moth of course. these things are not toxic and feed from the leaves of maple, oak, ash , and many other trees. they are very curious, and walk pretty fast. the one i have is injured and is healing very nicely. So theres your info!

Dagger Moth Caterpillar
On July 24, 2005 I found this same caterpillar on my front porch. I live in West Tennessee. Very interesting caterpillar and was able to identify it by using this website. Thanks for the help. Very helpful site!

Here's a link
to the pictures in the guide here

I agree
That's probably it. To answer the other questions, if it was walking along the sidewalk and given its size, it's probably done eating and just looking for a place to pupate. I would just release it in a natural area and let it do its thing. If you want to rear it to see the adult, here's some instructions:
Rearing Caterpillars

Dagger moth caterpillar?
It could be a different type of tiger moth caterpillar, or, possibly, the caterpillar of a dagger moth (family Noctuidae).

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