Currently viewing the category: "Hickory Horned Devil"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  What is this??
Geographic location of the bug:  Charleston, WV
Date: 09/06/2017
Time: 08:28 PM EDT
Just want to know what this crazy thing is. It’s in a hydrangea shrub.
How you want your letter signed:  Cynthia

Hickory Horned Devil

Dear Cynthia,
Is there a nut tree near the hydrangea???  This is a Hickory Horned Devil, one of the most distinctive looking North American caterpillars.  Early instars are brown, but as the caterpillars grow and molt, they eventually become spectacular, enormous caterpillars that are green, aqua and red, making the Hickory Horned Devil the largest North American caterpillar.  We have never heard of them feeding on hydrangea, so we suspect this individual was dislodged from a more typical food plant and is crawling around to find something to eat.  If there is a nut tree nearby, you should relocate it so it can continue to feed and eventually mature.  According to BugGuide:  “Larvae feed on leaves of ash, burning bush, butternut, cotton, gum, hickory, lilac, pecan, persimmon, sumac, sycamore, and walnut” and if it is really feeding on the hydrangea, that would be an additional food plant.  The adult Royal Walnut Moth it will eventually become is equally spectacular.

Update:  September 17, 2017
It is eating the hydrangea. There are not any nut trees nearby, except for huge oak trees.  There is a second one in another hydrangea on the other side of the porch.

Hi Daniel,
I just wanted to share a couple more photos of the caterpillars I inquired about. My mother actually discovered a second one in another hydrangea bush. They have none of the trees you listed nearby, so were not able to relocate them. However, both are eating, growing and changing colors in the hydrangeas.
Cynthia

Hickory Horned Devil eating Hydrangea

Thanks for the update Cynthia. We have not been able to locate any additional information on Hickory Horned Devils eating leaves from hydrangea.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What’s this caterpillar?
Location: Melrose Florida
August 19, 2017 10:10 am
Hello, I’m in Melrose Florida in a wooded area and came upon this guy on the trail. I’m curious what he is and since I can’t find a photo like him in my online searches thought you might appreciate this one. He’s about 4 inches long and 3/4 inch diameter. Beautiful creature and intimidating with all those spikes on his head.
Signature: Kimberly

Hickory Horned Devil

Dear Kimberly,
The Hickory Horned Devil is one of the largest and most impressive caterpillars in North America.  Though frightening looking, it is perfectly harmless, and those spikes are not capable of stinging.  This is our first Hickory Horned Devil sighting of the season.

Very cool! Thanks for the response. He was very beautiful!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Large caterpillar
Location: Southern AZ
August 19, 2017 10:04 am
We live in southern AZ had have these giant greenish gray (photo attachment) and tan version of this attached caterpillar on our AZ cotton. Are they the Horned devil caterpillar?
Signature: Len Nowak

Citheronia splendens sinaloensis Caterpillar

Dear Len,
You are quite observant to notice the similarities between your caterpillar and the Hickory Horned Devil, but that species is found only as far west as Texas according to BugGuide information.  Your individual looks so similar because it is a close relative in the same genus
Citheronia splendens sinaloensis, a moth with no common name.  The adult moth, which is pictured on BugGuide, is a darker, duller variation on the adult Royal Walnut Moth, the adult Hickory Horned Devil.

Citheronia splendens sinaloensis Caterpillar

Thanks Daniel
Besides the AZ horned devil….
We have amazing critters here at 4200′ in southern AZ.
A small sampling…
Signature:  Len Nowak

“Arizona Devil”

Thanks for the additional images Len.  The new “Arizona Devil” image is a wonderful addition to your previous posting.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Just Curious
Location: Summerville South Carolina
July 6, 2016 2:22 pm
I found this snacking on a wicker rocking chair in my front yard. It measures roughly 4 inches in length. It is summer and 100+ degrees outside. Just wondering what it is because I have never seen a caterpillar that big in real life.
Signature: K. W. Hibbs

Pine Devil

Pine Devil

Dear K.W. Hibbs,
This marvelous caterpillar is a Pine Devil,
Citheronia sepulcralis.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Caterpillar with Horns-ID?
Location: Painter, VA
July 3, 2016 11:06 am
Location of this creature is Painter, VA. Found 7/3/16. Would love to know what he is.
Signature: Evelyn Wolfer

Pine Devil

Pine Devil

Dear Evelyn,
The Pine Devil,
Citheronia sepulcralis, is not nearly as colorful as its close relative the Hickory Horned Devil.  According to BugGuide it is found in:  “Eastern United States: Previously north to Maine but now likely extirpated north of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, common southward to Florida along Gulf Coast west to Louisiana. Found inland from eastern Louisiana northeast through central Tennessee, eastern Kentucky, to Southern Ohio. Single report from Illinois erroneous.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Very hungry caterpillar
Location: Deltaville, VA (Tidewater)
July 16, 2015 8:38 am
At first we thought this caterpillar was a tomato or tobacco hornworm, but it was too spiky. We found it in an open field, mid-morning on a 75* day in July. The property is on the middle peninsula of Virginia. We’re surrounded by brackish water (Chesapeake bay watershed), but there are many farms (mostly corn) in the area.
Signature: Kelli

Hickory Horned Devil

Hickory Horned Devil

Dear Kelli,
Though there is no shortage on our site, we are thrilled to be able to create a new posting of the first Hickory Horned Devil of the year.  Each summer we get numerous identification requests for the largest, and arguably most distinctive looking North American caterpillar.  Despite its fierce appearance, the Hickory Horned Devil is perfectly harmless.  Hickory Horned Devils rarely leave the host trees (hickory, walnut and other trees) where they are feeding on leaves, but this large specimen is getting ready to pupate.  It will seek a location with favorable conditions and it will bury itself before metamorphosing into a naked pupa that will pass the winter with the adult Royal Walnut Moth emerging the following year. 

Hickory Horned Devil

Hickory Horned Devil

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination