CITHERONIA REGALIS MOTH
Citheronia regalis moth courtesy of John Campbell.
This site has been created by
Bill Oehlke at firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information are welcomed by Bill.
Superfamily: Bombycoidea, Latreille, 1802
Family: Saturniidae, Boisduval,  1834
Subfamily: Ceratocampinae, Harris, 1841
was Citheroniinae: Neumoegen & Dyar, 1894
Genus: Citheronia, Hübner, 1819
Species: regalis, Fabricius, 1793
copyright C. Odenkirk
Citheronia regalis, The Hickory Horned Devil, (wingspan 11.5-16.0cm)
ranges from southern Vermont and New Hampshire south to Florida and westward to eastern
portions of the Great Plains.
FLIGHT TIMES AND PREFERRED FOOD PLANTS:
Regalis fly from late June to mid-August.
Larvae prefer various nut trees: hickories, walnuts, pecans, and butternut, but other species of
sumacs, ash, sycamore, etc., are readily accepted.
Because of its rapid growth, relatively
small size, and ease of transplanting, Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is often used as a hostplant by rearers.
ECLOSION, SCENTING AND MATING:
Adult Citheronia regalis emerge from 9:00-11:00 P.M. and remain quiet
until the following evening.
call from 11:00 pm until 2:00 am. with males on the wing shortly after dusk. Pairs remain
coupled until the following evening.
Upon seperation, the females begin ovapositing shortly after dark. Males are readily
attracted to light; females much less so.
EGGS, LARVAE, COCOONS, AND PUPAE:
Yellowish eggs (2mm) are deposited
or in groups of up to four on upper and under surfaces of hostplant foliage.
lasts 7-10 days with larvae becoming visible through
transparent eggshells a day or so before emergence.
Warmth hastens incubation and
larvae are relatively large upon emergence. Female regalis will readily ovaposit on the insides of
brown paper grocery bags.
Larvae (full grown at 15 cm long) are
solitary nighttime feeders in early stages when they curl up in a "j" shaped pattern during the
day and resemble two-toned bird
droppings on upper leaf surfaces.
Larvae, in all instars, thrash their heads about
violently when disturbed, using their well-developed armaments to frighten would-be predators.
has been that the early instar larvae are not very clingy, and they sometimes fall to the bottom
of the sleeve if disturbed.
In later instars Citheronia regalis larvae also feed during the day and grow very rapidly
with very efficient assimilation of host plants, especially Rhus.
All regalis images (copyright)
on this page are courtesy of John H. Campbell.
To the right, a third instar larva has not yet taken on
the green coloration of the final two instars.
Larvae are quite disease resistant and do very well in
It is easy to see how the moth came to be known as the Hickory Horned Devil
from the menacing display of non-urticating, generally harmless, body spines.
This fifth instar larva can
reach a length of six inches in just a little over four weeks.
Larvae to the right, on sweetgum, will descend tree in a few days searching for soft earth in which to pupate.
I still remember a time when my father and I
were visiting some friends. As we got out of the car, parked under a large walnut at the end
of the lane, a dropping
approximately 3/8 inch wide and over 1/2 inch long hit the engine bonnet and rolled to the ground,
joining several other such offerings. My father looked up and spotted two gigantic devils
feeding on outer leaves. Larvae can be found in the wild when inspecting trees for stripped
Pupation is normally deep underground, but most of the earth pupators can be
induced into pupating in any dark enclosure.
My father has had
regalis pupate regularly in the dark chambers of a closed fishing tackle box. I regularly have
Sphingidae pupate under paper towelling in large buckets placed
in a warm dark closet.
The smooth, stout pupa has a relatively short cremaster.
Regalis pupae should be stored just above freezing; sprinkling in June with air temperature
water sometimes helps induce eclosions. Moths tend to eclose in a synchronized
fashion and it is not difficult to obtain pairings even in a relatively small cage.
Photo courtesy of Mark Deering.
regalis larvae will approach seven inches
Larval Food Plants
Listed below are primary food plant(s) and alternate food plants listed in Stephen E.
Stone's Foodplants of World Saturniidae. It is hoped that this
alphabetical listing followed by the common name of the foodplant will
prove useful. The list is not exhaustive. Experimenting with closely
related foodplants is worthwhile.
American plane tree/Sycamore
Wild black cherry
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