Q: What is this creature? I found it in my backyard and I have never seen anything like it.

A:The caterpillar is called the Hickory Horned Devil, Citheronia regalis , which will develop into the Regal Moth. The hickory horned devil is among the largest of our native caterpillars (12.5-14 cm in length – about the size of a large hot dog). They vary slightly in color, but are commonly blue-green. Sections near the head have two long and two shorter orange, black-tipped appendages that look like horns. Although the caterpillar appears to be fierce and dangerous, it is harmless. It is most often observed when it is full grown and comes down from the trees in search of a place to burrow for pupation. Trees such as pecan, sweet gum, persimmon and sumac are the most common food sources for the caterpillar. If a larva is found crawling on pavement or in an area of thick turf grass where it would have difficulty burrowing, it should be moved to an area of soft soil or a mulched area where it can burrow for pupation. Again, it is harmless and should not be killed. The regal moth has a wingspan of 9.5-15.5 cm with females growing larger than males. The forewings are gray to gray-green with orange veins and a row of seven to nine yellow spots near the margin. The hind wing is mostly orange with yellow spots on the margins. The hind wing may also have one to two rows of gray-green spots. The body is orange with narrow yellow banding. The adult moth typically has only a single generation per year, usually in the summer.

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Posted: June 27, 2017


Category: Home Landscapes
Tags: Citheronia Regalis, Hickory Horned Devil


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