Found in Whispering Pines, NC (Moore County) USA, crawling on our gravel driveway. I let it crawl into a clear bowl for photographing. My 4 year old daughter saw it first, and we photographed it and looked on the internet to identify it…but couldn’t see a picture just like it (it has no “hair”).
Thank you for your help in identifying this creature. We released it back into my flowerbed after about 10 minutes.
You have found a hickory horned devil caterpillar. They turn into a beautiful large moth called the Regal moth (some call it the Royal Walnut moth).
The larvae feed on leaves of ash, burning bush, butternut, cotton, gum, hickory, lilac, pecan, persimmon, sumac, sycamore, and walnut. The larva pupate in the soil.
Adult moths of this family do not feed. It overwinters as a pupa.
Thank you for letting it go. It may be crawling around to look for a place to pupate for the winter.
Tho the caterpillar looks dangerous, it is harmless.