Citheronia regalis
si-ther-OH-nee-uh mm REE-gahl-is
(Fabricius, 1793) Bombyx regalis

Citheronia regalis moth courtesy of John Campbell.

This site has been created by Bill Oehlke at
Comments, suggestions and/or additional information are welcomed by Bill.


Superfamily: Bombycoidea, Latreille, 1802
Family: Saturniidae, Boisduval, [1837] 1834
Subfamily: Ceratocampinae, Harris, 1841
was Citheroniinae: Neumoegen & Dyar, 1894
Genus: Citheronia, Hübner, 1819
Species: regalis, (Fabricius, 1793)


copyright C. Odenkirk
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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.


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.


Adult Citheronia regalis emerge from 9:00-11:00 P.M. and remain quiet until the following evening.

Females generally 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.


Yellowish eggs (2mm) are deposited either singly or in groups of up to four on upper and under surfaces of hostplant foliage.

Incubation 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.

My experience 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 outdoor sleeves.

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 foliage.

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.

Occasionally regalis larvae will approach seven inches in length.

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.

Carya glabra
Carya illinoensis
Carya ovata
Cephalanthus occidentalis.....
Diospyros virginiana
Gossypium herbaceum
Juglans cinerea
Juglans nigra
Juglans regia
Liquidambar straciflua.....
Nyssa sylvatica
Oxydendrum arboreum
Platanus occidentalis
Platanus orientalis
Prunus domestica
Prunus serotina
Rhus cismontana
Rhus choriophylla
Rhus glabra
Rhus laurina
Rhus typhina
Sassafras albidum
Syringa vulgaris

Pignut hickory
Shagbark hickory
Button Bush
Bush honeysuckle
Common persimmon
Levant cotton
Black walnut
English walnut
Black gum
American plane tree/Sycamore
Oriental sycamore
Garden plum
Wild black cherry
Mountain sumac
Smooth sumac
Laurel sumac
Staghorn sumac
Common lilac

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