“Rare sighting!” wrote the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) after local nature lover Carol Lightfoot found and showed ANS’ Conservation Outreach Manager Gregg Trilling an insect friend identified as a Hickory Horned Devil during a soccer match in Gaithersburg.
The Hickory Horned Devil is most often observed when it is fully grown and comes down from the trees to wander in search of a site for pupation. If one is found crawling on pavement or in an area of thick turf grass where it would have difficulty burrowing, it should be moved to an area of soft soil or a mulched area where it can burrow for pupation. It will later become a regal or Royal walnut moth– a large, nocturnal moth.
Per the ANS social media post (seen below): Gregg tells us, “I’ve been hoping to see one of these gentle giants for years …I used to show photos of the Hickory Horned Devil to students in my GreenKids programs.” Carol was initially reluctant to handle the caterpillar but reported feeling only a gentle tickle as its strolled up her arm.
‘Tis the season, according to University of Maryland’s Dr. Mike Raupp, aka the Bug Guy. On his blog, he points out that these caterpillars are ultimately looking for places to pupate. Next spring, they will emerge as beautiful royal walnut moths.”