Rare Hickory-horned Devil Caterpillar spotted in Gaithersburg

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A hickory-horned devil was spotted at a football game in Gaithersburg this weekend by nature lover Carol Lightfoot, according to the Audubon Naturalist Society at Chevy Chase, who called it a ‘ “rare sighting!”

According to the webpage of Michael Raupp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland, walnut-horned devils are about six inches long, have horns, and are harmless to humans but harmful to walnut trees.

A few weeks ago, female king walnut trees laid their eggs on hickory trees. Soon those eggs fell to the ground and formed “ginormous pupal cases” for protection during the cold months, said Raupp, known as The Bug Guy.

Raupp has only seen one once, and that was a few years ago. He kept the pupa in his kitchen for about a month until the moth appeared, clinging to the sofa in his family room, he noted in his blog post.

The caterpillar is a member of the silk moth family.

The royal walnut moth completes one generation each year in Maryland, Raupp noted. They are short-lived as they lack a functioning mouthpart and cannot eat as adults. Butterflies live only a few days, during which they mate and lay eggs, beginning the annual cycle again.

Video courtesy of Michael Raupp’s blog.

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