Fun Regal Moth Facts For Kids

Divya Raghav
Feb 09, 2023 By Divya Raghav
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel
We have curated Regal Moth facts for you to know about these fascinating insects of the wild.

The Regal Moth, which is also known as the royal walnut moth, is a North American moth belonging to the Saturniidae genus and order Lepidoptera. Hickory horned devils are the caterpillars' name.

The adult's wingspan ranges from 3.75-6.1 in (9.5-15.5 cm). The first person to describe the genus was Johan Christian Fabricius in 1793.

It is nocturnal, like most moths that exist. The Imposing Caterpillar, famously referred to as the Hickory Horned Devil, is usually seen when it is fully grown and emerges from the trees to look for a pupation spot.

The Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar (larva of the Royal Walnut Moth, Citheronia regalis) has a ferocious appearance but is harmless. It has a black-spined, green body with black-tipped red spines behind its back.

Walnut, hickory, and persimmon leaves are the main sources of nutrition, hence the name! The adult Regal Moth's forewings are olive-gray with yellow spots and red veins, and the hindwings are reddish-orange with yellow markings.

The Regal Moth lays her eggs on various fruit and nut trees made of hardwood, and the caterpillars take ten days to hatch in. But for their spines and horns, the juvenile caterpillar shows no similarity to the adult caterpillar.

Until they begin burrowing into the earth to pupate, where they start black, then turn brown, tan, light green, and eventually brilliant turquoise green.

These are solitary caterpillars that, despite their size, do not cause a lot of destruction to their host tree like other pests. The Regal Moth caterpillar grows from a hatchling to a mature and ready-to-pupate state in 35-45 days.

If you enjoyed reading this article, you could definitely check our articles on woodchuck or blackburnian warbler.

Regal Moth Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Regal Moth?

Regal Moth, Citheronia regalis (Fabricius), is an insect and comes under the general classification of the Kingdom Animalia.

What class of animal does a Regal Moth belong to?

Regal Moth, Citheronia regalis (Fabricius), belongs to the class of Insecta.

How many Regal Moths are there in the world?

No official study has been conducted to know the population of Regal Moths around the world yet.

Where does a Regal Moth live?

Regal Moth, Citheronia regalis (Fabricius), is a widespread species in the American Deep South, but it gets rarer and more intermittent as we head north. It can be found in the United States' deciduous forests from Missouri to Massachusetts and southward from Texas to central Florida.

The genus, which had previously been reported in New England, encountered a decline in the Atlantic Northeast during the mid-twentieth century.

What is a Regal Moth's habitat?

From New Jersey all the way to Missouri, south towards the east of Texas and central Florida, the Regal Moth can be found in deciduous woodland areas in the eastern United States (North America). Towards the south of its range, it is more popular.

They used to be found near Massachusetts, but they appear to be dwindling in terms of numbers in other areas of its range.

On host plants, walnut, hickories, pecan, sweetgum, persimmon, and sumac, hickory horned devils can be found. Young caterpillars eat only a small amount of vegetation, but the later stages consume a large amount.

Who do Regal Moths live with?

They are solitary creatures who generally keep to themselves.

How long does a Regal Moth live?

In six days, the eggs hatch, and the larval stage lasts about 35 days. The adult Regal Moth has a lifespan of about ten days.

How do they reproduce?

Pheromones are released by females, which the male can detect through his broad, plumose antennae. Males will travel thousands of miles to find a female.

After the moths mate, the female spends the rest of her life laying eggs, while the male will mate many times more. Vestigial mouths are mouthparts that have been diminished in adults of this moth family. As a result, they don't feed and survive for just about a week as adults.

Adult moths begin oviposition at dusk on the third evening after emergence and mate on the second evening after emergence. The eggs hatch in days, and the larval period lasts about 35 days.

Larvae are typically found roaming on the ground in central Florida from late July to mid-August, looking for the right place to burrow into the soil for pupation.

While a few late collection reports show the existence of a minor second brood in the deep south, the Regal Moth usually only has one generation each year. Adults have been spotted in Florida as early as May, although they are more frequent in the summer.

What is their conservation status?

Citheronia regalis is home to at least six species of tachinid flies (Diptera: Tachinidae), one species of sarcophagid fly (Diptera: Sarcophagidae), and one species of braconid wasp are amongst the threats to the Regal Moth. Regardless the Regal Moth is under no threat or concern.

Regal Moth Fun Facts

What does Regal Moth look like?

With its orange wings, the Regal moth is beautiful to look at.

The Regal Moth has a wing size of 3.75-6.1 in (9.5-15.5 cm). Females have a greater body size than males. They tend to have gray-green forewings with orange veins and a band of seven to nine yellow spots near the distal margin.

The hind wing is mainly orange, with a mark at the base and spots on the coastal and anal margins. One to two sets of gray-green spots can be found on the hind wing. The body is orange with a thin yellow band running across it.

The hickory horned devil larva is one of our largest native saturniid caterpillars. The color of the caterpillars varies somewhat, but they are typically blue-green.

Two long and two shorter orange, black color tipped scoli appear in the second and third thoracic segments, respectively (tubercles in the form of spinose projections of the body wall). Segments from two to eight have a pale, oblique lateral stripe, and each segment has four narrow black scoli. Despite its threatening nature, the larva is absolutely harmless.

How cute are they?

The Regal Moth species looks very cute. If they were to be rated from one to ten, their score might be as high as a nine! They are really colorful in their adult forms, brown or orange wings with yellow spots on them.

They also have short black legs and orange veins on the wings. Their larvae or caterpillar form is really unique, too. The bright green color with their signature black-tipped red horns is the reason why they are also known as the Hickory Horned Devil.

How do they communicate?

A comprehensive study about how these fascinating creatures communicate has yet to be done, but adult Regal Moth, Citheronia regalis (Fabricius), use pheromones to communicate during mating season.

How big is a Regal Moth?

This is easily how you can find and identify the Regal Moth. The Regal Moth Citheronia regalis can be identified by its size apart from its stripes and spots.

It belongs to the family of Giant Silk Moth, and the Regal Moth size can be as big as a human hand. The wingspan of an adult is 3.7-6 in (9.5-15.5 cm).

How fast can Regal Moths fly?

Regal Moth (Citheronia regalis)has a narrow body, allowing them to fly quickly and over long distances, but the speed has never been officially recorded.

How much does a Regal Moth weigh?

There is not enough information available on the weight of the Regal Moth.

What are there male and female names of the species

They do not have gender-specific names as such.

What would you call a baby Regal Moth?

Baby Regal Moths are called larvae or caterpillars, depending upon their stage in the lifecycle.

What do they eat?

Larvae can be found in many host tree species. They are commonly present on walnut, butternut, or white walnut, and many hickories, including pecan, persimmon, sumacs, and sweet-gum.

Are they dangerous?

They are not dangerous. Their intimidating nature is a myth. The spines, though prickly, do not sting, and the larvae are harmless.

Would they make a good pet?

Most probably not, as the hickory horned devil has a short lifespan, and caring for delicate insects like butterflies and moths is an impossible task.

Did you know...

Despite their looks and spiny features, they are not poisonous.

They only live for about ten days. How unfortunate, right? These species are found in the Eastern United States, from New York to Florida and New Jersey. The caterpillar feeds on hickory and walnuts, persimmon, sycamore, sweet gums, and a variety of other trees. The caterpillar pupates in an earthen chamber underground.

The Hickory Horned Devil might be large, but the world's largest caterpillar is the Lonomia obliqua, a giant silkworm.

Adult Regal Moths typically fold up their legs into a tent-like shape. They end up looking like a pyramid from above. This is their resting phase and this truly helps them relax.

Are Regal Moths the largest in the world?

The Regal Moth is surely one of the largest moths in the world, but the Atlas Moth is the world's largest moth.

Funny behaviors of Regal Moths

Regal Moths have not been witnessed performing many funny activities in the wild, such as funny squeaks and raiding beehives for honey!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods, including rosy maple moth, or io moth.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Regal Moth coloring pages.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Divya Raghav

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

Divya Raghav picture

Divya RaghavBachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel

Bachelor of Business Management

Yashvee Patel picture

Yashvee PatelBachelor of Business Management

Yashvee has won awards for both her writing and badminton skills. She holds a business administration honors degree and has previously interned with social media clients and worked on content for an international student festival. Yashvee has excelled in academic competitions, ranking in the top 100 in the Unified International English Olympiad and placing second in an essay-writing competition. Additionally, she has won the inter-school singles badminton title for two consecutive years.

Read full bio >