For a number of years - probably about nine - after learning of this wondrous beast, my life was void of Turbulent Phosphilas. It wasn't like I didn't try. I'm totally hip to their host plants, greenbrier (Smilax sp.), which are quite common and I'd always give the thorny plants a once-over. I'd even ask people in the know, and hear things like "Yeah, they're pretty common"; "See 'em all the time" that sort of balderdash. But no one could put me on to the phosphilas.
Until last weekend. I got a note from Bill & Deb Marsh, letting me know that they had JUST seen a pack of Turbulent Phosphilas making mincemeat of bristly greenbrier at Cedar Bog. I had the narrowest of windows in which to shoot over there the following day, and made it in time to catch two of the caterpillars. Bill and Deb had seen dozens - this species is gregarious - but I figured they'd be quick to disappear, what with the need to pupate soon to arrive. When I got there a scant 24 hours later, most had apparently gone into the leaf litter or wherever it is that Turbulent Phosphilas go to cocoon through the long winter. Only this chap, and one other, remained from what I could see.
The caterpillar in the photo was working its way down the stem of its host plant, bristly greenbrier, Smilax hispida, and that's a prickly ordeal. If all goes well and it gets through the winter, it is fated to morph into a rather plain brown moth - certainly not nearly as flashy as its larva was.