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Friday, August 20, 2010

Hickory Horned Devil

WARNING:  If you are not a bug person, click away now.  You may not be able to stomach the following post.  :)

Consider yourself warned.

This afternoon I decided to go out back to read a few chapters of my book under the shade of our maple tree.  As soon as I sat down Honey found Alex's flip flop and took off with it since she likes to chew on such things.  I got up to get it from her and saw something moving in the grass.  

This is what I saw ...

Isn't he the ugliest thing you've ever seen?

I immediately ran into the house for my camera and to tell the kids to come see him.  We got a piece of an empty box and scooped him into it so we could get a closer look.  He was hard to see in the grass.  He got mad at us when we did that which freaked the kids out a bit.  He was thrashing about like a crocodile would.

After taking a few pics, I came in to look up what kind of caterpillar he was since I've never seen anything like it.  Turns out he is a Hickory Horned Devil and he is completely harmless.  Here is a website I found some information on.

I went back outside to find that Doug and the kids had moved him to near the walnut tree since that is one of the things that they eat (walnut tree leaves).  I told the kids what I had discovered and asked if any of them wanted to hold him.  They were all pretty grossed out by that fact so I picked him up first.

Yeah, that's him in my hand.  He's huge!

Once the kids saw it was okay to hold him, they decided they'd give it a try.  In fact, they were arguing over who got to hold him.

Nick is reacting to the fact that he tickles your hand while he's crawling.

Keira is totally faking the grossed-out face.  She loved holding him.

Now that's a face only a mother could love.

We read that he was probably looking for a place to burrow underground to pupate.  So after we were done playing with him, we put him down and observed him for a while.  He found a comfy spot and starting digging.  

Because I had to go make supper, I told the kids it was time to leave him be.  I didn't want them bothering him after I left.  :)  We put a few rocks by the spot where we left him.  Nick checked on him about 10 minutes later and said he was almost completely underground.

According to the Discover Life website, it will become a yellow-orange moth with a wingspan of 5-6 inches.

This picture is from the Discover Life website.

How very cool is that?!  I'm really enjoying watching God's beauty in nature this summer!


Laura said...

That is RIDICULOUS!!! Wow. never seen anything like it. Great pictures too. I can't believe how BIG it is! Amazing. I bet the kids are having fun this summer with all the critters and how cool for them that they have a mom who is not afraid to lead the way. I'm not sure I would have picked it up hahaha. And to think that it has all that beautiful color now and it will be a mostly brownish moth. Weird ha! Hope you guys get to see the moth.

Sheri said...

Oh my gosh!! He looks like Absalom from Alice in Wonderland!!!!

By the way, once i realized how big that danged thing was I yelled "Oh my cr*p!" and the kids came running. LOL I really have to stop saying that!

Melissa said...

WOW! That thing is CRAZY looking!!! And HUGE!!! CRAZY! Glad you looked him up! I would have thought for sure he was dangerous! HAHA! He's just so scary looking! Very interesting stuff you learned!

Jenna said...

Holy Crap!! THat think is so odd looking! I didn't know bugs got that big! It looks like something that timon and pumba from the lion king would eat ha!

Great Photos!! I wonder why he doesn't come back as a blue moth?

Anonymous said...

We found one too! We were on a camping trip with the kids. We often raise other butterflies, and we decided to give this species a try, since we had the equipment. If you'd like, we'd be happy to post some photos of the pupation, which we recorded on film. We are keeping our guy in a "bug house" and I will keep you posted on how he overwinters. By the way, the chrysalis is four inches long, half the size of a hotdog. And the color changes were amazing. Robinhawk7@yahoo.com