hickory horned devil closeupInvertebrate Index

Hickory Horned Devil
Citheronia regalis

hickory horned devilWith their spiky horns and impressive length (up to 6 inches), mature hickory horned devils can be rather intimidating creatures, especially while rearing up their spiky heads when disturbed. These caterpillars are harmless, however, and they spend all summer feeding on leaves of such trees as hickory, walnut, pecan, persimmon, sumac or sweet gum. They molt as they grow, changing from the original black to brown, then tan and finally to green. In the fall, hickory horned devils stop eating and descend from the trees. At this time they are in danger of being eaten by copperheads waiting below. If the plump caterpillars don’t become snake snack food, they burrow down into the ground and change into shiny brown pupae. The pupae remain underground for one or two winters. In the spring, the adult royal walnut moth (or regal moth) emerges. This beautiful, orange-striped moth with yellow markings has a wingspan of up to 5½ inches.

Cool Links:

Regal Moth, Citheronia regalis - distribution, description, and life cycle. Has a good photo of the adult moth.

The Incredible Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar - a personal Web page about a chance encounter with a hickory horned devil, with several large, detailed close-up photos.

 

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