IMAGE: Largest Caterpillar in North America, ‘Hickory Horned Devil’ Transforms into Regal Moth
By Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission // August 26, 2020
hickory horned devil can measure over five inches long, largest caterpillar in North America
(FWC) – You may have heard about the ugly duckling who turned into a swan, but he’s got nothing on this caterpillar.
Known as the hickory horned devil, it is the largest caterpillar in North America and can measure over five inches long.
It may look a little creepy, but it is harmless to humans and transforms into the beautiful regal moth.
The regal or royal walnut moth, Citheronia regalis (Fabricius), is one of our largest and most spectacular moths. Like most other moths, it is nocturnal but is sometimes observed at lights.
The imposing larva, known as the hickory horned devil, is most often observed when it is full-grown and comes down from the trees to wander in search of a site for pupation.
The regal moth is found throughout the deciduous forest areas of the eastern United States from New Jersey to Missouri and southward to eastern Texas and central Florida (Wagner 2005).
It is more common in the southern part of its distribution. Historically, it was found north to Massachusetts and seems to be declining in numbers in other parts of its range (Wagner 2005).