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Hickory Horned Devil

Summary: The hickory horned devil is an unusual-looking caterpillar with green coloration and spikes that resemble horns all over its body. No need to worry, though. This caterpillar is relatively harmless to humans.

The Hickory Horned Devil is the caterpillar of the Regal moth. It derives its name from the two pairs of horn-like appendages on its body called scoli. It also has several smaller spikes covering the rest of its body. The Hickory Horned Devil can grow up to six inches in length and ¾ of an inch in diameter, making it the biggest of the silk horn caterpillars. Intimidating as it is, there is no need to be alarmed. It is nearly harmless to humans and only looks scary in order to ward off potential predators.

The Hickory Horned Devil can be found in hickory (another reason for the insect's name), sweetgum, lilac, ash, butternut, beech, persimmon, and walnut trees. This caterpillar grows throughout the 35 days it spends in its larval stage and as it grows, it molts. The molting process also changes its coloration from black to brown, then to tan, and lastly, to green. When it has eaten enough leaves and is ready to pupate, it crawls down from its tree habitat and burrows into the soil. This makes it different from most caterpillars that form a cocoon to pupate.

If you spot a Hickory Horned Devil in your grass or on your driveway, consider yourself lucky. This unique insect is not easy to find because snakes and other predators often devour it before it can burrow to safety. By the time you discover it on the ground, this caterpillar has finished eating and will not cause any more damage to your trees. This also means that it is too late for pesticide applications.

Making mock-up Hickory Horned Devils can be a fun activity to try with your kids.

Egg Carton Hickory Horned Devil

What you will need:

  1. empty egg carton
  2. paint
  3. 2 paintbrushes
  4. pipe cleaners


  1. Save an egg carton the next time you need to throw one out.
    Cut the top off the carton.
  2. Cut the rest of the carton in half. One half is for you to decorate, and the other half is for your child to decorate.
  3. Turn the carton halves over so that the six rounded humps are on top.
  4. Paint the carton halves with green paint, or any other color your child may use.
  5. Allow the paint to dry.
  6. When the paint is completely dry, cut or rip little holes in the each of the humps of the egg carton halves.
  7. Slide pipe cleaners through the holes. Now your caterpillar is a Horned Hickory Devil! (To make it really resemble the actual caterpillar, put longer pipe cleaners at the head and shorter ones throughout the rest of the body.)

Feel free to add any other creative decorations to your caterpillars, like gluing on squiggly eyes.

Papier Mache Hickory Horned Devil

What you will need:

  1. newspaper
  2. small balloons
  3. 3 cups flour
  4. ½ cup water
  5. 2 paintbrushes
  6. paint


  1. Shred 5 or 6 pages of newspaper into segments about 2 inches wide each.
  2. Blow up the balloons. Keep in mind that these will be used as molds for the hickory horned devil, so try not to make them too big.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the flour and the water. This will be the paste. If it is too watery, add more flour.
  4. Apply the glue to the balloons with the paintbrush.
  5. Lay strips of the newspaper over the glue until the balloon is completely covered in newspaper.
  6. Allow the glue to dry for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Add one or two more layers of glue and newspaper strips, allowing time for each coat to dry.
  8. Once the glue is completely dry, glue the balloons together to create the body of the caterpillar.

Paint the caterpillar any colors you like, and add any decorations your kids like.

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