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Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar

So I see this very big, alien looking caterpillar cruising through the garden the other day. No idea what it was, so took pics then did some googling to figure it out.

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Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar

Turns out it’s a hickory horned devil caterpillar that becomes a regal moth or royal walnut moth, which is one of our native moths. The scientific name is Citheronia regalis. Even though it looks like it would hurt if you touched it, it’s harmless.

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Regal moth
(Moth pic courtesy of Donald W. Hall, University of Florida.)

The caterpillars usually eat on walnut, butternut or white walnut, hickory, pecan, Sweetgum, persimmon, and sumac trees.

So if you see this crazy looking caterpillar, don’t kill it! Show it your kids (my great niece and nephew thought it was the neatest thing ever), then let it go about its business. Soon you’ll have a beautiful moth doing its nighttime pollinating in your garden.

Happy digging in the dirt …

Jeanni and Gibbs

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