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NC State Extension

Hickory Horned Devil

July 18, 2005

Photos by Debbie Roos, Agricultural Extension Agent.

hickory horned devil

close-up of hickory horned devil

close-up of hickory hoirned devil head

hickory horned devil

hickory horned devil

Hickory Horned Devil on Sassafrass

Wow…ain’t nature grand? The hickory horned devil is North Carolina’s largest caterpillar, measuring almost 5″ long when fully grown. Hickory horned devils may look ferocious with their “horns” and spines and eyespots but they are completely harmless. They feed on hickory, persimmon, sassafras, sourwood, sumac, sweetgum, sycamore, walnut, and other shade trees but are never numerous enough to warrant control. The adult is a large regal moth which lays its eggs during the summer. In late summer and early fall, the caterpillars burrow into the soil to pupate and overwinter. Most remain as pupae for 11 months although a few may take 23 months before developing into moths.
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