Royal Walnut Moth
Citheronia regalis (Fabricius, 1793)
Identification: Females are larger than males. Upperside of forewing is gray with red-orange veins and creamy yellow spots. Upperside of hindwing is orange with creamy yellow at the costa and inner margin.
Wing Span: 3 15/16 - 6 1/4 inches (10 - 16 cm).
Life History: Adults emerge in late evening and mate the following evening. Females begin laying eggs at dusk the next day, depositing them in groups of 1-3 on both sides of host plant leaves. Eggs hatch within 6-10 days, and the caterpillars (known as the Hickory Horned Devil) feed alone. Young caterpillars rest on the tops of leaves and resemble bird droppings, while older caterpillars appear menacing because they are very large and brightly colored with red "horns" near the head. Caterpillars pupate in a burrow in the soil.
Flight: One brood from May through mid-September.
Caterpillar Hosts: Hickories (Carya), pecan (C. illinoensis), butternut (Juglans cinerea), black walnut (J. nigra), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), sumacs (Rhus), cultivated cotton (Gossypium), and others.
Adult Food: Adults do not feed.
Habitat: Deciduous woods.
Range: New York west through southern Michigan and Illinois to eastern Kansas; south to central Florida, the Gulf states, and east Texas.
Conservation: Not usually required.
NCGR: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management Needs: None reported.
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