What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

hickory horned devls
Dear Bugman,
I have three awesome, fearsome-looking hickory horned devils devouring a small sumac tree on my property. My best friend in town is actually an honest-to-goodness entomologist, and he showed me what the adult royal walnut moth looks like too. It would be a privilege to see the lovely adult morph next spring. The caterpillars are probably 5 inches long now-I’ve been watching them for a week or so now. My kids, and especially my two girls, think they are the coolest bugs what ever were. I’ve attached two pictures of them to this email. Enjoy them or post them as you see fit.
Cheers,
Glenn A. Marsch
Physics guy, Grove City College
P.S. When do the moths leave the pupa, and is there any way I might attract the adult moth, or know better how to find them?
P.S.S. Great website! Thank you!

Hi Glenn,
We are so excited to get the first Hickory Horned Devil photos of the season. We usually get the final caterpillar instar images in September when they turn green and leave the trees to pupate. We have been considering the Hickory Horned Devil for the bug of the month for September and would like to request an additional photo once your tenants turn green. BugGuide has an excellent documentation of the caterpillar from egg through several molts. The adults emerge in June and July judging by the identification requests we receive at that time. You probably don’t have much of a problem attracting the adult moths since you have caterpillars on your sumac. Adults do not eat, and the only way to attract them is with pheromones from the female and with food plants. Thanks again for the wonderful contribution.

(08/22/2006)
Dear Bugman,
Now you’ve gone and done it. My scientist mode has kicked in and I thought I’d take pics of the hickory horned devils every other day to see how they morph. The caterpillars are 4.5 inches long, not 5.0–I had my daughter Betsy measure the one stretched lengthwise on the sumac leaf rib (“hickory horned devil 8-21 B”). They do seem to be greener. They have moved from leaf to leaf and if they don’t pupate for a few weeks, they might denude the whole branch of that small sumac sapling. I have noticed that they are frequently found hanging halfway off the rib of the composite sumac leaf, as you can see in the second photo, “hickory horned devil 8-21 d.” If it bugs you (pun sorta intended) for me to send you too many photographs, I’ll stop, I promise. I do think these things are wonderful. We’re trying to observe without disturbing them, which so far seems to be working, because they’re getting as fat as Heimlich in A Bug’s Life–we sure aren’t putting them off their feed. Again, feel free to use any of these photographs. If you do post them on your website, and if you credit them (I really don’t care), could you please credit them to Steve Jenkins and Glenn Marsch. Steve is the entomologist at Grove City College who identified them for me. We’ve had a great time watching them. Cheers,
Glenn

Hi again Glenn,
Your new photo is gorgeous, and there has been a molt between now and the previous image. Both of us are photography instructors and your photos are quite excellent. As we already said, we are contemplating the Hickory Horned Devil as the Bug of the Month for September. If you do not get us a better photo, and we expect you will (we are notorious for pushing our students to the limits of their potential) then we will use your most recent photo as the Bug of the Month image, but will need to edit your letters slightly. Thanks so much

(08/24/2006)
Hi, Daniel and Lisa Anne,
Thanks very much indeed for your kind comments regarding my photographs. I appreciate you adding one of my photos to your caterpillar page. I’m not a trained photographer and I don’t have fancy equipment, but I do try to compose my photos as best I can. Beauty is sometimes a rare thing in this world, but I try to see it where I can, and even mathematical physicists use standards of beauty in their theories: a spare, severe kind of beauty, perhaps, but beauty nonetheless to those trained to see it. (I’m not a mathematical physicist!) It’s raining here today but I’m going to try to get a few more pictures of the hickory horned devils this afternoon. I will do my best to up the ante and take better photos than the last ones!

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