This 6-inch-long caterpillar is a Hickory Horned Devil, and as much as the description may fit now, he’ll turn into a large, 4- to 6-inch orange and tan, subtly-striped Regal Moth, after overwintering in the ground at least one season in pupa stage. In its present stage, it looks b-a-aad, but it’s harmless. The horns look lethal, but they don’t sting, though they’re a little prickly.
In the caterpillar stage, they feed most often on the foliage of nut trees such as hickory, walnut, and pecan. They descend the tree after 35 to 45 days as caterpillars, then burrow into the ground where they form pupae.
This one hails from the front yard of Travis Clements in Locust Fork, and he said, sure ‘nough, there’s a pecan tree nearby. As Andy Warhol predicted, the caterpillar enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame when he was presented at the front counter of The Blount Countian a couple of weeks ago. Everybody who could find a camera took a picture. He wasn’t just a con-ten-dah. He was the champ of the day!