Regal Moth

Yesterday this moth was perched on the outside wall at the studio where I practice yoga. Before class started, my friend and fellow student, Diane, showed me a photograph she had taken of the moth on her way into the building and told me where I could look for it when I was leaving.

As it happened we exited the building at the same time and she pointed it out. Sure enough, the moth was still in the same spot on the brick wall. My husband snapped several images using his phone so I could share it here.

Citheronia regalis (regal moth or royal walnut moth)

Citheronia regalis (regal moth or royal walnut moth)

From matching photos and descriptions I believe this insect is called Citheronia regalis (regal moth or royal walnut moth).

The regal moth’s range is Eastern United States.  It has a harmless, but enormous caterpillar by all accounts, growing up to six inches (someone said it is about the size of a hot dog) before burrowing into the soil to molt and overwinter in its pupa stage.

These caterpillars, named hickory horned devils, are extremely heavy feeders. A few host plants are hickories, sweet gum, persimmon, sumac and black walnut. It gets all its eating done during its early stages. This insect does not feed on anything during its adult stage as at that time it has only a vestigial mouth.

Around June-July the insect changes into the mature adult stage we saw yesterday, beautiful with a deep orange body and gray wings marked with orange veins. Though the spots look white in these images, the descriptions I read all referred to them as yellow. The Regal Moth will live for about a week during which it will mate. Apparently the male can fly from miles away to connect with a potential mate.

The Regal Moth is a large insect with a wingspan of approximately 4-6 inches (10 – 16 cm). We did not get to see the opened wings but it was a treat to meet this moth yesterday.

Citheronia regalis (regal moth or royal walnut moth)

Citheronia regalis (regal moth or royal walnut moth)

30 thoughts on “Regal Moth

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Do google it Malc. I saw some images with the opened wings and a few with people holding them so you can get an idea how large it is.

      Reply
  1. Cathy

    Its name does it justice… it looks very regal indeed. How sad that it has such a short life at this stage… you were certainly lucky to see one, AND get such a great photo! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      You might come across a regal moth in your area, apparently they’re not uncommon, but it was the first one I’ve seen. The Lemon Lime Hosta is gorgeous. I’d love to trade if you were close but don’t want to take on the mailing. I think it’s a great idea though to set up that exchange. Thanks.

      Reply
  2. Julie

    I like the yoga connection to this post it sounds so lovely, a very beautiful moth but a six inch caterpillar sounds a little alarming!

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Julie, recently I’ve picked up my yoga practice, trying to get to a class most days and soon will be heading to a yoga retreat at the beach which I am really looking for to. If you have a chance to google the caterpillars (hickory horned devils) they’re pretty interesting too.

      Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      It’s that problem of how to distribute something to where it is wanted/needed…apparently the caterpillars would love to eat your black walnut.

      Reply
      1. gardeninacity

        Glad to say we don’t have one now, but when we lived in Wisconsin there was a huge one in the nieighbor’s yard that must have extended over 1/4 of my back yard.

  3. Beth @ PlantPostings

    What a beautiful creature! Makes me wonder if that is why my Hickory has holes in some of its leaves. I was thinking it was sawfly damage, but I’ll have to do more research on larval stage of this moth. It’s gorgeous, though. And big!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s