|Description:||This 2008 image depicts a ventral view, i.e., from below, of a Regal Moth, Citheronia regalis pupa. |
Found buried in the rural Georgia dirt, this pupa represents the next phase of development of this moth, which follows the caterpillar known as the hickory horned devil. See PHIL 10766, 10767, 10768, 10769, and 10770 for images depicting this caterpillar in all its majestic splendor. Like butterflies, moths are holometabolous organisms, which means that they undergo a complete metamorphosis as they pass through their four developmental stages: embryo, larva, i.e., caterpillar, pupa, which is the case here, and imago, or adult. See PHIL 10821 and 10824, for a closer look at the cephalic, or head end of this pupa.
Known as the cremaster, you’ll note the protuberance emanating from the distal caudal tip of this pupa, which in many Lepidopteran species is used to attach the pupa to a branch or twig, but in this case, being that this was a subterranean pupa, it was blunted.
Its habitat ranges from the Deep South, where they are most common, i.e., this specimen was discovered in Eastern Georgia, nearing Augusta, to the northeast region of the United States, where they are much rarer. The formidable appearance of the spines belies their harmless nature. These caterpillars derive their name from the fact that they are often found feeding on hickory trees, but also enjoy the taste of other plants including ash, English walnut, persimmon, and cotton.