The World’s Largest Caterpillar May Freak You Out

We are taught that caterpillars are baby butterflies and moths that have yet to undergo metamorphosis to change into the majestic flying creatures they will become. The Regal Moth, for example, is beautiful as far as moths go. It is colorful and large in comparison to other moths. In the US, they are found in the south and eastern states.  The adults can have a wingspan as wide as 6.1 inches.  That’s quite large as far as moths go. In fact, it takes the world’s largest caterpillar to change into one of these.

Regal Moth

World's Largest Caterpillar

As we learned in school, these creatures start out a bit more squishy – as caterpillars – before undergoing metamorphosis and becoming the winged aviators we know them for. As you’ll see below, the Regal Moth starts life as one of the largest caterpillars in the world. Known as the Hickory Horned Devil, it sort of looks like something straight out of a nightmare.

Behold, the Hickory Horned Devil

(source: jethrodupree1)

Scary-looking, right? While intimidating to look at, the world’s largest caterpillar is harmless. The spikes are simply a ruse to dismay potential predators (who wants to get stuck by a sharp spine while swallowing their meal?). According to Wikipedia, after plumping up to full size, the moths will bury themselves up to 6 inches below the soil to begin metamorphosis, and can withstand extreme weather conditions such as fires, floods, and frozen winter. Amazing!

Would you hold one of these? What about your friends? Share this story with them!