University of Maryland Extension: Garden Q&A
Q: Can you identify this magnificent caterpillar? It resembles a dragon in a Chinese New Year's parade! Friend or foe? It's nothing I'd want to wake up in the middle of the night and find sitting on my chest, though I suspect it's harmless.
A: The scary appearance is strictly to warn away predators. It is a treat, though a bit shocking, to see a Hickory Horn Devil, the humongous larval stage (caterpillar) of the also huge Royal Walnut Moth. You should return it to the area where you found it. It feeds on hickory, walnut, pecan, sweet gum, and sumac leaves.
Q: All of a sudden, I can’t find lawn fertilizer with phosphorus. Why is that? I need to do my fall fertilization.
A: Phosphorus fertilizer is unnecessary for yearly lawn maintenance and a main culprit polluting the Chesapeake Bay. New grass seedlings do need phosphorus to get their roots established, so phosphorus can be found in starter fertilizer. But the phosphorus needs of established lawns are minor, and phosphorus is very stable in the soil. Adding phosphorus each year that the grass cannot utilize results in excessive build up in the soil. Many soils have enough phosphorus to last them for decades. Then soil runoff carries the phosphorus into the Bay. Remember to do a soil test every few years to check for deficiencies but, for most lawns, a totally nitrogen fertilizer such as urea would be perfectly adequate.