COLUMBUS, OH—A ravenous caterpillar escaped from captivity today, wreaking havoc as it devoured everything in its sight and carved a half-centimeter path of destruction across the city, horrified sources reported.
Confined to a glass viewing chamber since late May, the savage creature reportedly broke free from its bedside enclosure before slithering out of an open window and charging wildly toward the city's unsuspecting commercial district.
"I came back home and it was gone," said 8-year-old resident Daniel Bogen, whose hubris and reckless abandon has unleashed a terror of immeasurable proportions onto the community. "I thought I twisted the lid on the jar real tight. Where did it go?"
Stretching out to a monstrous 75 millimeters, the beast's segmented body left behind a swath of devastation as it uprooted entire blades of grass, snapped whole clover stems in half with a single bite from its jaws, and marauded past residential structures helpless against its larval fury.
At press time, authorities remained no closer to locating the caterpillar.
While many Columbus residents avoided peril by staying indoors, the multi-legged creature continued to quench its insatiable hunger for the flesh of foliage. In fact, the rapacious insect was said to only momentarily pause its mindless pursuit of nutrients when it climbed atop a branch and coldly surveyed the city with its unfeeling eyelets. One terrified onlooker said he watched the creature use its razor-sharp mandibles to tear through the leaf of a 100-foot-tall oak tree as though it were paper.
"That thing is a menace," said resident Derek Kriesel, who noted that his 25-foot chain-link fence provided little defense against the caterpillar's feeding frenzy. "It ripped through an entire stem of my basil and consumed almost two whole buds from that one tomato plant. There's nothing left. Nothing."
With little regard for life or private property in the crowded urban area, the raging caterpillar instantly rendered dozens homeless when it knocked over an anthill, its three pairs of legs crushing everything beneath them into the dirt. Although the full extent of the damage caused by the .250-foot creature is not known, many estimate it will take more than 10,000 ant-hours to rebuild.
Though the caterpillar left a chewed-up trail of leaf remnants in its wake, numerous Columbus residents admitted they had not personally witnessed the voracious pest's reign of horror.
"Was it one of those fat-furry ones or the green ones?" Columbus native Andrea Barlow said. "Those furry ones give me the willies. They're so creepy."
How long the creature's destructive rampage will continue, or what—if anything—can stop it, remains to be seen. A unit of plastic army men and tanks, stationed on the edge of a local sandbox, proved no match for the insectoid, as it lumbered through the group with terrifying speed, knocking a half-dozen infantrymen onto the ground below.
Shortly before press time, the caterpillar began to exude a translucent and stringy discharge, which it wrapped around itself until it had completely disappeared inside the alien casing. While few know what is occurring inside the hanging structure, some speculate that the creature has entered a horrifying state of mutation, one that may transform the ungodly caterpillar into an even more deadly and revolting organism.
"Whatever is happening inside of that thing, it's far from human," said Columbus police chief Keith Morgan, who predicted that if the creature gains the power of flight, nothing will be capable of standing in its way. "Once again the folly and ignorance of man has unleashed nature's fury. May God help us all."