Q: We found this huge green caterpillar near Lake Hartwell. I suspect it’s some type of moth. We took it to Collins Hill Christian School second grade “Show and Tell”. Hope it’s not deadly! The kids loved it!
A: I’ve been WAITING for someone to send me a picture of a hickory horned devil! Your note and picture answered my prayers. This amazing caterpillar is indeed the larva of a moth: the rather large (five inch wide) orange-brown colored regal moth .
The caterpillar feeds high in hickory, pecan, walnut, and sweetgum trees. They are rarely seen because only strong storms knock them out of the tree…… and the only time they contact the earth is when they crawl down in fall to find soft soil in which to pupate and over-winter.
Despite its fierce appearance, the hickory horned devil is completely harmless.
Your students might like seeing other night-flying moths this autumn. Spread a white sheet in the backyard, put a bright lightbulb in the center and see what comes fluttering down.