caterpillar cutline

July 30, 2004

Logan Darland, 9, found a Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar in a Walnut Tree in his front yard Thursday morning.

The green giant larva, Chitheronia regali, will become a Royal Walnut Moth.

Darland named his caterpillar Spike. His grandmother, Lois , plans to keep the caterpillar in her third-grade classroom at Harrodsburg Middle School.

"He'll be there on Tuesday to greet the students," she said.

Darland and Ellis scooped Spike up in a butter tub.

Spike and his relatives eat leaves from the walnut, sumac, sweet gum, lilac, persimmon ash and beach trees.

Hickory Horned Devil is the largest of the silk moth caterpillars. Spike measured five inches, which is typical of the full grown species.

The horns look intimidating, and even Darland said he didn't want to touch it at first. But, it's harmless. The full grown larvae can still be spotted feeding in late September and October, according to the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology Web site. But during the winter it will burrow into the ground, and pupate.


By spring Spike will have turned into a moth with gray-brown spots and yellow and brown wing veins.

The UK Web site suggested that students look at the Hickory Horned Devil as inspiration for their own egg carton caterpillars. Here's how to make one: Cut an egg carton, cardboard is best, into three-cell pieces. Turn the pieces over so the humps face up. Color or paint the caterpillar. Use toothpicks, beads and glitter to make hair and spikes.

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