I needed to clean up a lot of debris in my yard after hurricane Irene passed in the fall of 2011. Underneath the large limb of a sweetgum tree, I found this! I was surprised because I had never seen one before - you know, it is very exciting for a field biologist to see something new in the wild for the first time! And so I was introduced to this bizarre creature, nicknamed the “hickory horned devil” obviously inspired by the large red horns :) Believe it or not, this is a caterpillar, the larval stage of a moth (Citheronia regalis). This moth, the regal moth, is the largest moth species in the United States. The caterpillars munch on sweetgums and other trees until they are this size. Then they crawl down the host tree and burrow underground. They may remain there for up to two years in this pupal stage until they are ready to emerge as a beautiful moth. Click on the link below to see it.