Yeah, so check out this caterpillar… it is called a Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar. SCARY! A co-worker’s daughter caught it today under a pear tree. For whatever reasons the digital camera did not want to focus on the ferocious, dragon looking thing, so I am instead posting pictures from hilarynelson.com (this guy got some awesome pics…) All I have to say is this is totally normal for what Tennessee has to offer for bugs – big, gross and crazy!!
This is what Ohio State has to say about these little devils… (now granted I am a Badger, this does sound like it is accurate)
“This caterpillar is the larva of the Royal Walnut Moth, also known as the Regal Moth. The larva is not one for a timid person to suddenly discover. It has a scary, frightful appearance resembling a small dragon with up to five pairs of long, curving hornlike structures over the back of its thorax with the rest of the body covered with shorter spikes. The body color ranges from deep blue-green to tan with orange spikes tipped with black. Shorter spikes are black. Though very ferocious appearing, it is quite harmless to handle. They are enormous in size, being five to six inches long and nearly 3/4-inch in diameter. They feed for a period of 37 to 42 days on the leaves of hickory, walnut, butternut, pecan, ash, lilac, persimmon, sycamore, sumac and sweet gum. Larvae mature in late summer, wandering around searching for a place to burrow underground to pupate. Overwintering occurs in the pupal stage.
The moth has a wingspan of five to six inches and is seen in midsummer. It has a long body covered with orange yellow hair. The forewings are gray with orange veins and yellow spots. The hindwings are primarily orange with scattered yellow patches.”