Caterpillar Types and Identification Guide

Updated on July 20, 2019
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I have studied insects for nearly forty years, and I have also done battle with my share of garden pests.

I Found a Caterpillar. What Will it Turn Into?

Did you find a caterpillar outside, and you're wondering what kind of butterfly or moth it will turn into? Would you like to raise it to an adult? Find out the name of your caterpillar, what it eats, and what it turns into with the help of this quick and easy caterpillar identification guide.

There are more things you may want to know about the caterpillar you found. Does it sting? Is it rare? This guide will answer your questions about many of the most commonly found caterpillars in North America. Whether you're a young scientist looking for information for a project, a gardener with big green caterpillars all over your tomatoes, or you simply want to know what that thing crawling across your patio might be, there's something here for you.

The cecropia moth caterpillar, one of the largest and most impressive species in North America, is completely harmless and does not sting.
The cecropia moth caterpillar, one of the largest and most impressive species in North America, is completely harmless and does not sting.

How to Use This Guide

For every species listed, this guide will tell you the following essential information:

  • Does it sting?
  • What does it eat?
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees?
  • Is it rare?
  • What does it turn into?
  • Can you raise it to an adult?

If you still have questions about identifying the caterpillar you found, there are good internet sources that are species-specific and can give you more detail.

Is Your Caterpillar Eating Your Garden?

Caterpillars: An Overview

Caterpillars are the larval stage of Lepidoptera, commonly known as butterflies and moths. They spend their days eating and storing energy for the adult butterfly or moth that they will become. Caterpillars are well-adapted to their natural surroundings. Most of them are camouflaged, so even though they're all around us, we never see most of them. They are so perfectly disguised, or have such secretive habits, that we walk right by them without ever knowing they're there. But they are!

Most caterpillars live their lives quietly eating leaves (and, of course, pooping). They rarely do any damage to the plant they live on. Sometimes, however, caterpillars can seriously harm trees and other plants. The gypsy moth caterpillar is a serious pest of oak forests in the northern US. Other caterpillars attack garden plants. If you grow tomatoes, chances are good you've come across the Tomato Hornworm, a big green monster that can destroy a tomato plant in less than a week.

Find Out if Your Caterpillar Can Sting

Does your caterpillar sting? Is it a threat to children or your pets? Find out quickly with this OWLCATION STINGING CATERPILLAR GUIDE.

Do You Have Questions About Your Caterpillar?

If you're wondering about your caterpillar's life, food, behavior, and habits, you should have a look at my CATERPILLAR Q&A article here on Owlcation!

Monarch Caterpillar

Danaus plexippus: The Monarch

This cool caterpillar is always found on some species of milkweed (Asclepias species). They aren't too hard to spot, with their bright stripes of black, white, and yellow. The milkweed that monarchs feed on is protected by having poisonous sap, which in turn makes the monarch caterpillar poisonous to any potential predators. Not a bad form of protection! They are brightly colored and turn into one of the most beautiful and popular of all butterflies: the monarch. Check it out, below!

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No.
  • What does it eat? Milkweeds
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? No -- milkweed is a common roadside plant.
  • Is it rare? No, although pesticide run-off is threatening its foodplant!
  • What does it turn into? The beautiful monarch butterfly.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes, it does well in captivity.

Monarch Butterfly

Do You Want to Help Keep Monarch Butterflies from Becoming Endangered?

You can easily make a big difference simply by planting a few milkweed plants in your yard. Monarchs will visit the flowers and lay eggs on the leaves. Milkweed is the only kind of plant Monarch caterpillars eat, and without them they'll die. Pesticides used by modern agriculture can poison and kill milkweed plants, so you can help Monarchs by planting milkweeds yourself. The seeds are FREE. This article shoes you how to get started. THANK YOU!

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Papilio polyxenes: The Black Swallowtail

This caterpillar looks a lot like the monarch caterpillar (above) -- and that may not be an accident. The monarch is most likely "protected" by the bitter sap of the milkweed plant that it eats because some of the toxic compounds in the sap become incorporated into the insect's tissues.

The black swallowtail caterpillar eats the leaves of carrots and other Umbelliferae species, which gives them little protection. But sometimes just looking like you're poisonous can be protection enough -- that's the basis of one major form of mimicry. It's thought that the black swallowtail caterpillar mimics the monarch caterpillar so birds and other predators might leave it alone, putting a mistaken identity to good use!

These caterpillars can be kept in a safe, unbreakable habitat designed for raising caterpillars. Make sure you give them plenty of the host plant—for this species, carrot or dill—that you found them on.

This attractive caterpillar turns into a beautiful, big butterfly known as the black swallowtail.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No
  • What does it eat? Parsley, carrots, and dill
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Sometimes they can eat a lot of carrot greens.
  • Is it rare? No, but it isn't always common in all areas.
  • What does it turn into? The gorgeous black swallowtail butterfly.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes, if you give it an upright stick to pupate on.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar
Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Halysidota harrisii: The Sycamore Tussock

This species is quite common in some parts of the United States. You'll most likely find it wandering around looking for a safe place to make a cocoon. The moth is a pretty brown-and-cream color and is part of the genus Halysidota, which includes many similar species found all over the US. In some ways, it looks cooler as a caterpillar than as a moth, but that's just my opinion! Check out the Sycamore Tussock Moth below and let me know what you think.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No, although the fur may be irritating to sensitive skin.
  • What does it eat? Sycamores and related plants.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? No, it seldom occurs in enough numbers to do damage.
  • Is it rare? No.
  • What does it turn into? A cool, pale-brown tiger moth.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes -- it will spin a cocoon in the container.

Sycamore Tussock Moth

Which Do You Prefer?

Do you think the Sycamore Tussock moth or caterpillar looks cooler?

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Cecropia Caterpillar

Hyalophora cecropia: The Cecropia Giant Silk Moth

This is a BIG caterpillar, growing up to five inches long. And it looks amazing as well -- check out the orange and blue "clubs" on it. The cecropia caterpillar feeds on oak, willow, and maple, among other trees and bushes. It can be found wandering around in late summer as it looks for a place to spin its tough, brown cocoon. This spectacular caterpillar turns into an even more spectacular moth. The cecropia moth, below, is a bat-sized beauty that belongs to the group of "giant silk moths." These are among the largest Lepidoptera in North America.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No, despite all the tubercles and spines.
  • What does it eat? Many plants, including privet, ash, birch, oak, and walnut.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Not usually.
  • Is it rare? No, but it appears to be becoming less common.
  • What does it turn into? A huge, beautiful moth.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes -- this species does well in captivity.

Cecropia Moth

Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar

Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar
Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar

Antheraea polyphemus: The Polyphemus Giant Silk Moth

This is another big caterpillar -- about the size and thickness of your thumb. It's closely related to the cecropia moth (above). Polyphemus caterpillars eat maple, birch, willow, and several other trees but are seldom abundant enough to cause any real damage. As big as they are, they are really hard to see among the foliage when they're resting. As with many caterpillars that leave the food plant to spin a cocoon, Polyphemus are sometimes seen wandering around in late summer. This caterpillar spins a tough, brown, oval cocoon that you may find attached to bushes and plants around your house during the winter.

The polyphemus moth, below, has large eyespots that look like an owl and may scare predators away. Another example of mimicry!

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No.
  • What does it eat? Many plants, including birches, maples, oak and walnut.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Not usually.
  • Is it rare? No -- this is one of the more common giant silk moths.
  • What does it turn into? A huge, beautiful moth.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes.

Polyphemus Moth

Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Source

Pyrrharctia isabella: The Woolly Bear

These little guys are often seen hot-footing it across the road in rural areas of eastern North America. They belong to the family of tiger moths (Arctiidae), which includes many attractive and widespread species. Woolly bears are the larva of the Isabella tiger moth, Pyrrharctia isabella, and they feed on a number of common plants found in second-growth areas and roadsides. When you see them hustling across the road, they are looking for a good place to spend the winter; this species hibernates under rocks or logs, emerging in the spring to pupate. The moths emerge in early summer.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No, although the fur can be irritating to sensitive skin.
  • What does it eat? Just about anything, from oak trees to dandelions.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? No.
  • Is it rare? No.
  • What does it turn into? A very pretty but seldom-seen moth.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Not easily, since it overwinters as an adult and needs a pretty specific environment.

Wooly Bear Tiger Moth

Enjoying This Article?

Then you'll REALLY like my guide to some of the most commonly seen beetles in North America. Here's a link: MEET THE BEETLES.

Yellow Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Spilosoma virginica: The Yellow Woolly Bear

This is one of the most commonly encountered of all North American caterpillars. They eat a wide variety of common plants, many of them considered weeds, and they make no real effort to hide -- you can often find them on the top of a leaf in the middle of the day, happily eating. They are typically pale yellow or orange, but some individuals are much darker. The fur is thick but not spiny, and they are very "firendly" -- they don't seem to mind being handled and will harmlessly crawl over your hands (some people with super-sensitive skin may have a mild reaction to the fur). The adult is a beautiful white moth that you may find in the summer around your porch lights.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No, although the fur can be irritating to sensitive skin.
  • What does it eat? Mostly low plants and "weeds."
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? No.
  • Is it rare? No.
  • What does it turn into? A very pretty white moth.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes.

Yellow Woolly Bear Moth

Io Moth Caterpillar

Have You Ever Found a Yellow Woolly Bear Caterpillar?

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Automeris io: The Io Moth

This species, Automeris io, belongs to the group of giant silk moths that also includes the cecropia and polyphemus moths. This is one of the few caterpillars in our area that has irritating spines for protection, which really interested me when I was a kid. I had read all about the animal's "stinging spines" in my trusty Golden Nature Guide. I found one when I was about twelve and brushed the spines against my arm on purpose to see what all the fuss was about. Did it sting? Yes!

This beautiful caterpillar turns into a beautiful moth. The false eye-spots on the hind wing are very realistic, and come complete with reflected-light markings, making them extra realistic.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? YES. This species is protected with venomous spines.
  • What does it eat? Many plants, including roses and other garden plants.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Not usually an issue.
  • Is it rare? No, but it is generally not common.
  • What does it turn into? The striking io giant silk moth.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Not advised.

Io Moth

Tomato and Tobacco Hornworms

Tomato and Tobacco Hornworms
Tomato and Tobacco Hornworms

Manduca Species: Tomato and Tobacco Hornworms

These huge caterpillars can often be found chowing down on your tomato plants, often to the point where the entire plant is eaten. The tobacco and tomato hornworms are very similar and often eat both plants, as well as sweet potatoes and other crops. They produce similar moths: huge brown bombers that are such good fliers they have earned the nickname "hawk moths."

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No. The horn on the tail end appears to be only for show.
  • What does it eat? Tomatoes, tobacco, and many other plants.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Yes -- this species can be a serious pest.
  • Is it rare? No, very common, even in cities.
  • What does it turn into? A big strong moth known as a "hawk moth."
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes, without much difficulty.

Tomato Hornworm Moth

How You Can Control Pest Caterpillars Without Poison

I am often asked about killing caterpillars that are destroying garden plants. I myself prefer to pick them off by hand and smash them into my compost pile, but sometimes that's not practical. On occasion I will use a product called DIATOMACEOUS EARTH. Diatomaceous Earth kills pest insects and is safe for the environment -- in fact, it's one of the more common substances found in nature. The way it works is pretty mind-blowing.

How Diatomaceous Earth Works

Diatomaceous Earth is refined from dirt found in the bottom of old ocean, lake and stream beds. It's full of the fossilized exo-skeletons of microscopic animals called diatoms. The skeletons of these animals are made out of silica, the same basic component of sand (and the silicon that supplies Silicon Valley with material for all of our computer chips).

Here's where it gets interesting. Diatomaceous Earth is not toxic, and is not a poison -- it kills insects because when they crawl over it, the jagged silica shells left behind by the diatoms make little scratches and cuts on the insect's underside. This damage is typically fatal.

Human Safety

Diatomaceous Earth is considered safe for humans, and much of it is "food grade" and actually offered as a dietary supplement. I avoid breathing it, but that's not too difficult since you're typically outside when you apply it. All things considered, this product is the thing you want when you have an out-of-control caterpillar problem.


Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth

DiatomaceousEarth DE10 FGDE10 Food Grade diatomaceous Earth, 10 Lb
DiatomaceousEarth DE10 FGDE10 Food Grade diatomaceous Earth, 10 Lb

Picking caterpillars off by hand is my preferred method of control, but when that won't work, I will use Diatomaceous Earth. It's non-toxic (this product is "food grade," meaning it's as safe as the groceries you buy) and has been used to control insects of all kinds for over a hundred years.

 

Milkweed Tiger Moth Caterpillar

Euchaetes egle: The Milkweed Tussock Moth

This cool-looking little guy is the larval stage of the tiger moth Euchaetes egle. There are relatively few Lepidoptera species that feed on milkweed, which has poisonous sap that may make the caterpillars themselves poisonous to birds. Like the monarch, milkweed tiger moth caterpillars eat nothing but milkweed and spend all of their time on the plant, living and moving in small groups of up to ten. They're not at all hard to find on the host plant -- their bright coloring is thought to be a kind of warning to predators not to even bother eating them.

For such a showy caterpillar, the adult milkweed tiger moth is pretty plain -- unmarked, light gray wings with a spotted abdomen.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No, but the fur may be irritating.
  • What does it eat? Milkweeds.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Not usually, although it will eat a fair amount.
  • Is it rare? No.
  • What does it turn into? A very plain gray moth.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Not easily, since they occur in large groups and need lots of fresh milkweed.

Milkweed Tiger Moth

Gypsy Moth Caterpillar

Lymantrie dispar: The Gyspy Moth

This is the dreaded gypsy moth caterpillar, Lymantria dispar, which can multiply out of control and strip entire oak trees down to the branch. In some cases, whole forests lose their leaves to hordes of these caterpillars. Walking into a forest under siege from gypsy moth caterpillars, you can hear the sound of millions of tiny jaws working away, eating every leaf in site. Attempts have been made to control this caterpillar by spraying infested forests with a kind of bacteria that kills the caterpillars. While this can be effective, the bacteria is known to kill many other species of caterpillars in addition to the gypsy moth. It's a high price to pay to rescue trees that will likely eventually survive anyway!

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No, although the spines are sharp and stiff.
  • What does it eat? Everything, and a lot of it.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Yes -- this is one of the most serious insect pests on the planet.
  • Is it rare? No.
  • What does it turn into? The gypsy moth.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes, but please don't.

Male Gypsy Moth

Forest Tent Caterpillar

Malacosoma americanum: The Eastern Tent Caterpillar

This pretty blue and brown caterpillar is often found in large numbers in oak forests. They can be a pest, but not on the level of the dreaded gypsy moth, which can defoliate an entire forest in a matter of weeks. They get the name "tent caterpillar" because the group of insects they belong to tend to make silk webs or mats on the branches and trunks of the host trees. They eat a variety of trees, especially wild cherry -- the cyanide in the cherry leaves may be the reason that this caterpillar can spit "tobacco juice" that contains a small amount of cyanide.

The moth that this caterpillar turns into is a pretty fawn brown color with subtle stripes and a furry body.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No, although it can spit toxic "juice."
  • What does it eat? Forest trees such as wild cherry.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Yes, it can.
  • Is it rare? No, very common.
  • What does it turn into? A pretty brown moth.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? No, since it needs a large tent to live in with dozens of other caterpillars.

Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth

Hickory Horned Devil

Hickory horned devil caterpillar
Hickory horned devil caterpillar

Citheronia regalis: The Regal Moth

When I was a boy, I always hoped to find one of these amazing creatures munching on the leaves of the hickory trees in our neighborhood. I never did, though -- they are not all that common, and live mostly in the South. My bad luck to live in the North! The hickory horned devil is likely the largest, and certainly the fiercest-looking, caterpillar in North America. Full-grown, they are nearly half a foot long, and will rear up and make a clicking sound if you bother them. They're totally harmless, though, like pretty much all caterpillars.

The hickory horned devil turns into the regal moth, a gigantic, beautiful animal that most people will never see in nature.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No, even though it looks really fierce.
  • What does it eat? Walnut, oak, persimmon, and hickory.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Not usually.
  • Is it rare? Common in the southern states.
  • What does it turn into? A huge, beautiful moth -- in terms of mass, it's the biggest in North America.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes, although it pupates in soil (no cocoon).

Regal Moth (Hickory Horned Devil Moth)

Pandorus Sphinx Moth

Pandorus sphinx moth
Pandorus sphinx moth

Eumorpha pandorus: The Pandorus Sphinx Moth

This bright orange beauty is one form of a somewhat common type of sphinx moth larva -- the other form is green, and while beautiful, is not quite as striking as this one. I've included this caterpillar mainly because I think it's so beautiful – as is the moth it turns into. This caterpillar in the illustration may be a tropical version of the North American pandorus species -- it's a little hard to tell. But if you find one, you can be sure you've found a truly special insect.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No.
  • What does it eat? Grape and virginia creeper, among other plants.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Not usually.
  • Is it rare? This species is not rare but it is seldom seen.
  • What does it turn into? A truly gorgeous moth.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes.

Pandorus Sphinx Moth

Catalpa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

Ceratomia catalpae: The Catalpa Sphinx Moth

This species feeds only on catalpa trees, which are very common in the South and becoming more so in the North. Catalpa trees have big, pale green leaves and form seed pods in the fall. They are common ornamental trees and can be found in both city and suburb.

The catalpa sphinx can really do a number on an infested tree. But there is also a type of parasitic wasp whose eggs turn into little wasp larvae that eat the caterpillar from the inside out. This kills the caterpillar, as you might guess! If it manages to avoid such an unpleasant fate, it turns into the moth pictured below.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No.
  • What does it eat? Catalpa leaves, and a lot of them.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Yes, it has been known to strip all the leaves from a tree.
  • Is it rare? Common in the southern United States.
  • What does it turn into? A large brown moth.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes.

Catalpa Sphinx Moth

Mourning Cloak Caterpillar

Nymphalis antiopa: The Mourning Cloak Butterfly

This caterpillar eats elm leaves and is known in some places as "the spiny elm caterpillar." It is the larval stage of one of the best-known butterflies in the world, the mourning cloak. This beautiful insect is native to the US and Europe. In the UK, this species is incredibly rare, and entomologists can spend a lifetime waiting for one to show up (it's known as "the Camberwell Beauty" in England). Up close, the upper side of the mourning cloak is gorgeous. The underside is considerably more drab; the dark colors give the insect its common name because early entomologists thought it looked like the drab cloaks worn by mourners at funerals.

Mourning cloaks often winter in a shelter and begin flying on the first warm days of spring. Keep an eye out for these big, beautiful butterflies on warm spring days, even when there are still patches of snow on the ground.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No, although the spines are sharp.
  • What does it eat? Elm leaves.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Not usually.
  • Is it rare? Not in North America, but in England it is very rare.
  • What does it turn into? A gorgeous burgundy and yellow butterfly
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes, if you give it plenty of fresh leaves.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

American Dagger Moth Caterpillar

American dagger
American dagger

Acronicta americana: The American Dagger Moth

This cool caterpillar has irritating "fur" that it spins into its cocoon. The black hair pencils may act as fake antennae, making the insect appear larger or more threatening than it really is. This caterpillar feeds on oaks and other trees, and can be very common in the late summer and early fall as it crawls around looking for a place to spin its oval cocoon.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No, but the fur can be irritating.
  • What does it eat? A lot of trees, including ash, birch, elm, maple, and oak.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? No.
  • Is it rare? No, quite common.
  • What does it turn into? A pretty gray moth.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes, especially if you find one wandering around in late summer looking for a place to spin a cocoon.

American Dagger Moth

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Pterorous glaucus: The Tiger Swallowtail

This rather plain caterpillar turns into one of our most spectacular butterflies, the tiger swallowtail (Pterourus glaucus). It is sometimes seen crawling down the trunks of ash and cherry trees in early summer, looking for a place to pupate. This caterpillar overwinters as a very young larvae, rolled up in a little leaf shelter, to emerge in the spring and resume eating and growing. The adult butterflies are a common sight in parks and gardens, yellow and black beauties that soar high among the treetops, looking for mates and a place to lay their eggs.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No.
  • What does it eat? Ashes, wild cherry, apple, and other trees.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? No.
  • Is it rare? No, very common; subspecies occur throughout North America.
  • What does it turn into? A big beautiful tiger-striped butterfly.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes.

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

White-Marked Tussock Caterpillar

Orgyia leucostigma: The White-Marked Tussock Moth

These cool-looking caterpillars produce a quite plain and inconspicuous moth. They eat almost anything, including some decorative trees like hawthorn that cities tend to plant along roads and in plazas. Tussock moth caterpillars get their name from the little tufts of fur along their backs; apparently these are called "tussocks" in some parts of the world.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No, but it has stiff hairs that are irritating to some people.
  • What does it eat? Many trees, including ornamentals planted in urban areas.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? Yes, it can be a real problem.
  • Is it rare? No.
  • What does it turn into? A small brown moth with a white mark on its wing.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes, quite easily.

White-Marked Tussock Moth

Butterfly Habitat

Butterfly Habitat Set
Butterfly Habitat Set

This habitat is as close as I could find to the ones used in labs around the world. This unit comes from one of the best-known biological supply houses in the country. It's not a toy and has excellent, lab-quality features.

 

Puss Moth Caterpillar

Megalopygidae opercularis: The Puss Moth, Asp, or Elvis Caterpillar

With its awesome pompadour and general slug-like build, this animal is sometimes referred to as the "Elvis Caterpillar." Puss moth caterpillars belong to the Megalopygidae family, which has a fair number of interesting-looking caterpillars. Many of these caterpillars have stinging hairs -- including the puss moth, which sometimes drops out of trees onto unlucky passersby! The sting of the puss moth is usually mild, though sensitive individuals can develop a more intense reaction.

Megalopygidae moths are relatively uncommon, and if you see one you're lucky -- but don't touch!

Nota bene: There's a moth in the UK called the Puss Moth, but it's in a different family (Notodontidae) and the caterpillars do not have stinging hairs.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? YES. This caterpillar has one of the worst stings of any Lepidopteran.
  • What does it eat? Oak, elm, and wild plum.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? No.
  • Is it rare? It's not very common, but it's not rare.
  • What does it turn into? An interesting-looking insect called a "flannel moth."
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Best not to try!

Puss Caterpillar Moth

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar

Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar
Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar

Papilio troilus: The Spicebush Swallowtail

This is a cool caterpillar with fake snake eyes. The effect is even better when it sticks out its "osmeteria," a red, forked organ that it can stick out from behind its head when it's feeling bothered. The osmeteria looks a lot like the forked tongue of a snake, and it also smells bad. Pretty good defense for an otherwise tasty caterpillar! This one turns into the big, beautiful spicebush swallowtail.

The Basics:

  • Does it sting? No.
  • What does it eat? The spicebush, and other members of the genus Lindera.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? No.
  • Is it rare? No, but it's not very common in the northern states.
  • What does it turn into? A beautiful butterfly.
  • Can you raise it to an adult? Yes.

Spicebush Swallowtail

Explore More by Raising Caterpillars to Adulthood

Raising a caterpillar to the adult stage is a pretty cool science/home learning experience. You get to witness one of the natural world's most amazing events: the change from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Plus, you'll have the chance to definitively identify the insect you found.

Along the way, you'll learn about food plants, life stages, cocoons and chrysalises, parasites, and how scientists work in the lab with insects. Who knows -- there's a chance you or your little ones might start on the path to becoming a scientist some day.

If raising caterpillars sounds like a fun project, then I'd recommend housing them in a container designed to keep caterpillars safe and well-fed, like one of the products made by InsectLore caterpillar habitats. It's critically important that you keep them fed with fresh leaves from the exact plant on which you found them. If you found them wandering around, they're likely about to pupate. Some leaves or a paper towel on the bottom of the habitat will give them a place to cocoon.

Some of the Biggest Caterpillars You'll Ever Find -- A New GreenMind Guide!

Have a look at these BIG caterpillars in my new guide!
Have a look at these BIG caterpillars in my new guide! | Source

Sources

These are some places you can find information about caterpillars and insects:

https://owlcation.com/stem/caterpillar-identification

http://www.panamainsects.org/

mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu

Didn't Find Your Caterpillar Here?

Maybe you'll find it on one of these fine Owlcation guides:

Striped Caterpillar Identification -- If your caterpillar has stripes, you might find it here.

Furry Caterpillar Identification -- Many moth caterpillars and a few butterfly caterpillars are furry or hairy. This guide includes some of the ones you're most likely to come across

Green Caterpillar Identification -- Green is the most common color for caterpillars, since they live among leaves and they can avoid predators by blending in.

Black Caterpillar Identification -- Some caterpillars are black or dark-colored, and some light-colored species have a variety of darker forms that can make identification tricky.

Insect Identification -- An entertaining and authoritative guide to the insects you're most likely to find in your garden or around your home.

And if you can't find it anywhere, there's a chance that it's actually a beetle larva. Have a look at my article about beetles right here.

Good luck!

Questions & Answers

  • I just found a caterpillar that is fuzzy, all black and appears to have two horns. What type of butterfly or moth is this? I have a butterfly garden on my property, and have never seen this one before.

    Fuzzy caterpillars are usually moths; often in the family Arctiidae. If you want to, you can send a picture of it to identification@panamainsects.org.

  • I have a green caterpillar which is small and has soft spikes on it. We ordered the caterpillars off insect lore, and they are supposed to be painted ladies. We've had them before, and this guy is just completely different what type of caterpillar is it?

    Yes, it is not a painted lady. You could send a photo to identification@panaminsects.org.

  • It's June in New Jersey, and I see quite a few inch-long furry white caterpillars. Their skin may be black or could be a narrow stripe. What kind of caterpillars are these, and are they harmful?

    It could be the moth genus Datana which could be a pest.

  • I found six bright orange caterpillars. They have bumps along their backs and have two horn-like protrusions. Can you tell me what they are and what they will become?

    If they are furry, they could be milkweed tiger moth caterpillars.

  • I found a 1 1/2 inch solid light yellow hairy caterpillar. What kind is it? It was in my red Russian kale while I was preparing dinner. I've never noticed this kind before ( I grow organically, so I've seen some critters in my produce.)

    This sounds like a yellow woolly bear.

© 2012 GreenMind Guides

Comments

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    • profile image

      Bj75963 

      24 hours ago

      Found this today. What is it. Brown body about 3/8” dia, 2” long, 4 large eyes black with tears white and brown, outlined in grey on head. White spur on tail.

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      Erin Nickleby 

      5 days ago

      we have a yellow caterpillar and its fast and has five stingers and were freaking out!!!! please tell us what it is and what dose it eat even!!! thanks!!!(has butt shaped head)??

    • profile image

      Sue Schultz 

      6 days ago

      Found a caterpillar. He's 2.5 to 3.0" long. Has a little forked tail that sticks up. Color greenish/gray. Nose and rear are lighter green. About 0.5" in diameter and has a couple little tentacles on his forehead. Wind Lake, Wisconsin

    • profile image

      Marlene Ehler 

      6 days ago

      I have these white hair with I think a black spine crawling in my tent n in my doors n outside of house are they harmful like the brown tail moth ???

    • profile image

      Lindsay 

      7 days ago

      I have found a large green caterpillar has a very bright blue horn and has large circles only on top of its back. In side the circles are reds black and blue yellow colours over lapping like a butterfly would have on its wing .whast is it ?

    • profile image

      Charles A Brazell 

      13 days ago

      I believe I stand corrected-upon a 2nd look it appears it is greenish-I believe some call it the cecropia moth, yes(was identified as such on this website)-when I first saw it about a 1/2 hour ago it looked really blue but then just having come back from that same spot about 2 or 3 minutes ago now, the bug is green, with different colored things all over it as well; oh well that's it f/now.

    • profile image

      Charles A Brazell 

      2 weeks ago

      A pretty blue(not green)caterpillar(w/red and some other colors on it)is sticking to the side of my front door right now-touched it out of curiosity-it moved but remained clinging to it's position near the opening of my front door-never in all my days(I'm in my 60s now)saw anything like it-like something out of a sci-fi movie!

    • profile image

      Sarah 

      2 weeks ago

      I found a Caterpillar that was orange with black stripes. The strips were more of arrows pointing towards the head. I found it on my daisies. I think in just a moth.

    • greenmind profile imageAUTHOR

      GreenMind Guides 

      2 weeks ago from USA

      Hi -- sounds like a saddleback caterpillar. Do a google search. I bet that's it.

    • profile image

      2 weeks ago

      I was climbing a tree in New York when I put The side of my leg on a branch and a caterpillar stung me it was mostly light brown with a green small thinking I think it might’ve been the head on one of the ends of it and I don’t know what it is i can’t find it on the internet. I bet no one can guess it

    • profile image

      SixPak 

      3 weeks ago

      I found a group of white caterpillars with a yellow/tanish belly (pipe cleaner but 1/2 to 1in in length) what family is it from, butterfly or moth?

    • profile image

      Bj 

      3 weeks ago

      I have a friend that has a giant Oak tree. There are these caccoon/pods that drop out of the tree by a single thread. They seem to drop when the wind blows. The pods seem to be made out of dead leaves. The only catapillar I saw was pale green/yellow and seemed fuzzy. It was pretty high up so couldn't tell what markings it had. Not sure if this helps. Trying to figure out what they are.

    • profile image

      Sue 

      3 weeks ago

      I saw in my garden a green caterpillar, it was 4. - 4 1/2 inches circumference..6- to 8 inches long. Do u know what it was.

    • profile image

      Rachel 

      3 weeks ago

      This is a fantastic and easy to read website. Great information contained in it. Fab!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      4 weeks ago from Connecticut, USA

      So opportune that I found your article. I have two friends I am forwarding this to. One found a "blonde" caterpillar and is protecting it's chrysalis as she wants to see the butterfly emerge. The other friend found tent caterpillar tents on her bushes and thinks they are gypsy moths.

    • profile image

      Isabella 

      4 weeks ago

      I lost my pet

    • profile image

      patricia kettle 

      4 weeks ago

      I have just found an amazing moth on my tomato plant in the greenhouse and can't find identification - just over an inch long with wings like a tornado plane , olive and plum in colour with white antennae and legs

    • profile image

      Red 

      5 weeks ago

      I found a fat breen caterpillar with 4 white spots with orange rings around them along the center of its back. I live in P.A. and i cant find it in the eastern U.S. index. Does anyone know what caterpillar it is.

    • profile image

      Jaymz 

      5 weeks ago

      So, I live in North Carolina and I found this really tiny caterpillar. It has a red body and white fuzzy looking spikes on both head and butt, and it was eating and living on my reaper pepper.

    • profile image

      Carol S. 

      5 weeks ago

      ElmW sounds like ones I had on my tall bushes(cant think of the name) get rid of them,cut down they r very invasive and started to destroy my bushes turning them brown---dying-----if u dont want to kill them,just cut down and i guess take them elsewhere.

    • profile image

      ElmW 

      5 weeks ago

      I found an interesting insect. It had a cone shaped shell that looked like bark from a tree and leaves. Inside the shell I thought was a caterpillar or maybe a worm. It was a black worm/caterpillar that went inside the shell when I blew on it. Any idea what this could be?

    • profile image

      Babyblues2269 

      5 weeks ago

      I live in Northeast Pennsylvania and a friend of mine found an off white, hairless caterpillar with tan markings, (almost looks like a baby fat snake) it has a marking on the very top of it, that kind of resembles an eye, (near one end, and the end is pointed. I believe its the rear end, not the head, thats pointy). The tan markings run down the sides of it. I have two pictures of it, if needed. I looked through the list and tried to google it, but could not find any that resembled it anywhere. Any idea what kind of caterpillar it is?

    • profile image

      Name 

      6 weeks ago

      I found a caterpillar its greenish-yellow and it has a ball for a head and a black sort of bottom I didnt find it anywhere on this list though

    • profile image

      Caroline White 

      7 weeks ago

      We found a caterpillar that’s a pale yellow with black dots on his sides but we’re not sure what to feed them can anyone help we will be very grateful

    • profile image

      Michelle Tomasso 

      7 weeks ago

      Hello. I found this catapillar today. I have nevwr seen one like it. It jas a green body with a black strip, white tufts of hair in areas of the body. Red eyes amd red dots at the base of the tail whcih was brown and long. As if it had a small poney tail??

    • profile image

      FLL 

      7 weeks ago

      I recently found a green caterpillar it is turned into a cocoon and I don’t know what it is if I send in a photo can you tell me

    • profile image

      Magime 

      7 weeks ago

      I found a caterpillar today light green, black v marks on body and pale red bands all around its body. Found in North Wales, UK. Thanks

    • profile image

      Name 

      8 weeks ago

      I'm trying to find caterpillar... there very hard! I live in maryland and I am trying really hard because I want to take care of a caterpillar that is not posionus nor has spikes and is easy to take care of, any recommendations?

    • profile image

      Poop 

      8 weeks ago

      I found a green caterpillar with a reddish/brown head. I wonder how to keep it alive...

    • profile image

      Sylvie 

      2 months ago

      We found Caterpillars in Ohio and it is small and black and yellow and fuzzy we are trying to find out what type of Caterpillar they are

    • profile image

      Rai'Onah 

      2 months ago

      I found a caterpillar that I didn't see on the list it's kind of light green, it has yellow spots, a blackhead, and black spots down its back it also has hair sticking out of it does anybody know what it is?

    • profile image

      Help please 

      2 months ago

      I found a caterpillar that is a glossy black color with two goldish white stripes on either side of its body

    • profile image

      Autumn Sweeny 

      2 months ago

      We captured a caterpillar that is about the size and shape of a pinkie finger and had no antennae, horns, spikes, etc. It is brown and speckled and looks remarkably like tree bark or a stick. It sort of cocooned itself in a little bit of sticky silk stuff and stuck leaves together around itself.

    • profile image

      Elroux Norton 

      2 months ago

      How can I make this info readily available

    • profile image

      Troy 

      2 months ago

      I found this caterpillar on my sidewalk. Its is a dark mixture of green and brown and has tan yellow strips. Ive tryed finding it but i havent found anything. Plz help!!!

    • profile image

      Kyle 

      2 months ago

      I found this Caterpillar In a bag that I had a part of a butterfly bush in and he’s dark red on the top and yellow on the bottom. He’s not fuzzy he looks kinda slimy

    • profile image

      Faith 

      2 months ago

      I found a small green caterpillar with a yellowish head and small black spots... do u know what it is?

    • profile image

      Monkeygirl 

      2 months ago

      Ok, so my sis found this ugly little orange Caterpiller that looked kinda scaly and it was oozing this brown stuff out of it’s head.

      I even tried identifying it on INaturalist but no results found it.

    • profile image

      Cay 

      2 months ago

      I found a caterpillar that is a mixture of brown, orange, and green. It has four little tubular things on its back. I mistook it for a leaf at first. What kind could this be? (Illinois)

    • profile image

      Mac 

      2 months ago

      Found this in the grass. Salt Lake City, Utah. Any ideas on what it is?

      https://share.icloud.com/photos/0SPSZP1wNJPStmJ_9D...

    • profile image

      Rather not 

      2 months ago

      We have a black caterpillar with 3 yellowish stripes

    • profile image

      A dragon that like someone pie. 

      2 months ago

      I live near austin Texas, and found a small green caterpillar about 1.5-2 centimeters long and super thin. It has a small white horizontal stripe with a black one on top of it. It also has smaller and less bright stripes horizontally covering it, with a reddish brown head. I couldn’t seem to identify it. What is it?

    • profile image

      Sharon 

      2 months ago

      I found a pink & green colored caterpillar with white hairs in Tucson, AZ. Does anyone have any idea what kind of butterfly or moth it might be? It crawled inside our apartment & I picked it up with a napkin & put it on my aloe plant.

    • profile image

      Jessica 

      2 months ago

      My daughter and I found a caterpillar Dark reddish Brn with red spikes. We couldn’t find any info on your page for identifying. We wanted to know more so we could build it a habitat.

    • profile image

      Alexis Gomez 

      2 months ago

      I found a Green caterpillar with one long line on either side of it. It was eating my tomato leaves. what was it??

    • profile image

      Sarah A Dragonfly 

      3 months ago

      I found caterpillar that’s brown with black triangles on it. What could it be?

    • profile image

      Bonnie Gauthier 

      3 months ago

      Was out running errands,and found a LARGE fuzzy caterpillar on the sidewalk. It is all black, 3 inches long,and has rusty/reddish colored feet. I have it in a woodland set -up aquarium,along with my woolly bears (so cool! ). I live in upper northeast CT, and have never seen this type before. Can you help me find out about it? Is it dangerous to plants/animals? Can I raise it to adulthood?

      THANKS !

    • profile image

      Mary Strenge 

      3 months ago

      Our wooded area has some very large cocoon sacks filled with small black and green worms. We are concerned these critters may kill our trees. Any information would be helpful. The "sacks" are usually about 2x4 inches and hang on flowering bushes.

    • profile image

      salty beans 

      3 months ago

      Ok so i found a caterpillar, and i'll try my best to describe it.

      about 1 inch (2.5 cm)

      brown

      3 light brown lines going down the caterpillar vertically

      thicker (maybe swollen or pregnant) around the abdomen

      black shiny head with same 3 white line pattern as its body

      dark green under bottom

      hope the detail helps, thanks! also, i live in reynoldsburg, ohio, for region

    • profile image

      Dog Girl 

      3 months ago

      I fond a caterpillar that had brown fuzzy tenticals, what type of caterpillars are they? Also what do black and orange caterpillars eat?

    • profile image

      Caterpillar Finder 

      3 months ago

      Mine has orange head and but is a little fuzzy able to pet and has spots it looks kind 9f like a spitfire but its not i searched it so if i could have help that would be amazing it also was found on a grape vine.

    • profile image

      bunny 

      3 months ago

      Mine is all brown and kinda looks like the eastern tint but its very different what is mine please help?

    • profile image

      Lily 

      3 months ago

      I found a small black with yellow lines on the side but it doesn’t have a stinger in the back like the one it looks like above? What kind is it??

    • profile image

      Unknown 

      3 months ago

      I found a caterpillar no hair brown and camoflauged and it turned into a brown orange pupa and Ike a little more than a week later my mom found one while folding clothes

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      The alien 

      4 months ago

      I found a brown caterpillar with two small horn s in its head and it looks like a tree bark. It also has 6 legs on the front and four nubs on the back. I live in Texas. What is it?

    • profile image

      noneyabeeswax 

      4 months ago

      i found a small blackish and dark green caterpillar. no spikes. i live in WA what is it?

    • profile image

      4 months ago

      I found a green caterpillar with a black head hanging from my tree

    • profile image

      Nick 

      4 months ago

      I found a 1.5 cm long caterpillar in some mint leaves. I'm in the valleys of California. It's dark brown on the top half and light tan on the bottom. On the sides it has a really thin whitish stripe down its whole body. In that same whitish color, it has small dots in little intervals above the whole stripe. I consulted a entomology friend of mine and they said that it was likely to be a moth but I'm not sure. It doesn't have an hair.

    • profile image

      Tayler  

      4 months ago

      Hey, I found one that’s green black and has little yellow spots. Also he’s got a spike one his bottom. He’s got a black yellow and black again line on his back... I have got no idea what he is ...help? Btw his head and bottoms a butterscotch color.

    • profile image

      Jerrie Miller 

      4 months ago

      I found an all white caterpillar about an inch and a half long on an immature Redwood tree near Santa Cruz CA. It is hairless and appears to have individually plated segaments on the abdomen. Do you know what it might be?

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      Alex 

      4 months ago

      After swimming, my girlfriend and I were laying on the grass just taking in some sun in my backyard. All the sudden she jumps back and tells me not to move. She's looking at my leg and I'm pretty much freaking out at this point but she's insisting that I remain completely still. I could feel something on my leg but wasn't sure if it was her or whatever was on me. I'm like, what the hell is on me and she says that she doesn't know exactly, but she said it could be a caterpillar of some sorts. So I'm feeling a little better now and then she says that it looks way to big to be a caterpillar. So I was like get it the hell off me. She tells me to hold still for one more sec cuz she wants to take a picture of it and I'm in full on freak out mode at this point ready to jump up and do some African fast foot dance to get this thing off me. I hear her camera flash sound and so I yell at her to get it off me. So she's moving in all slow and like lightning fast I feel her grab it and I feel this excruciatingly burning feeling like I've never felt before. I hear her say, "Oh my God, Alex!" as I'm writhing around in pain and so as I was looking down to see what ever it is on my leg I asked her, "What's the oh my god for?" She gets up and starts running to the house. I didn't know anything at this point except how much pain I was in. I look down and don't see anything. I jump up real quick, frantically looking over everything and there's nothing there. I walk up to the back door of the house to find my girlfriend sitting there in this dazed, shocked kind of upset yet smiling. She looks at me as I'm staring back at her for some kind of explanation as to what just happened and to see if she caught whatever was on me. She calmly says, "No, you dumbass!" And turns out it was no giant caterpillar but just my dong hanging out of the bottom of my swim trunks. I have since nick-named it "The Monarch"!

    • profile image

      Do you know if this is a caterpillar or worm 

      4 months ago

      I found something I don’t know if It’s even a caterpillar it might be a worm it’s all brown yeah

    • profile image

      Me 

      4 months ago

      I found one that’s yellow with black stripes but it is NOT a cinnabar catapillar

    • profile image

      abe 

      4 months ago

      I found a brownish thing that looks like a catepiller is it a worm or a catepiller

    • profile image

      Max 

      5 months ago

      I found a white caterpillar with tiny black dots and sharp black spikes eating on what I believe to be an invasive Florida skunk vine. I was just curious about what it might be.

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      Ayla Eynaud 

      5 months ago

      I found a very large green caterpillar, that had a pattern of 6 or so upside down V’s in black and white colours down its topside. At its bottom were little yellow protuberant spots. At its head was a long black horn with little spikes coming off it.

      At the tip of its head were the same but larger yellow spots on the top and underside. It was large and thick and my cat brought it inside from somewhere. Couldn’t match it to any of these

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      Barry is an Ice Survivor 

      6 months ago

      I revived a brown one with light brown and black stripes from the ice. I couldn't find it on the list and don't know what it eats. What is it called?

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      Bryleigh McGowan 

      9 months ago

      I found a light orange/dull butterscotch-colored caterpillar with a brownish purple line on the back.The line looks as if it starts from the top of the head and ends all the way to the back end.It has small black pinchers by it’s mouth and cream colored pinchers on it’s butt.It has only two lines of white fuzz on it’s sides.it’s about as small as an olive. Compared to all of the other pictures of caterpillars I’ve seen, this one doesn’t have much fuzz at all.

    • profile image

      Peter Pearce 

      9 months ago

      i have found a very large black Caterpillar with a horn right on its rear end. i live in Spain.

    • profile image

      Dhgv 

      9 months ago

      I found a caterpillar in my backyard and it has long and separated stripes and it was black and it tried burrowing into the dirt. Do you have any jdea what it might be

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      AK Tisyo Kelley 

      9 months ago

      Heyo, I found this funky lil brown caterpillar (not hairy) in my house, and I want to know what type it is so I can feed it. It's mainly brown, with a lighter underbelly, and a dark brown top, with black patterns outlined in a sort of yellow brown color. Any help would be great. I would post a picture if I could, but I'm new to this site, and figuring out how it all works

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      Ansh 

      10 months ago

      Hello, my friend caught a green caterpillar with pale yellowish lines and stripes, only in some parts of it's body, not whole. I don't know what kind of a caterpillar it is. It also has a bright yellow coloured head and my friend has decided to keep it until it becomes a butterfly/moth. Please tell if it's harmful or not and please tell what species is it.

    • profile image

      Derek 

      10 months ago

      I need help i dont wath eat my caterpillar his color is yellow and black if someone nose just tell my

    • profile image

      Jose Espinoza 

      10 months ago

      I found a caterpiller at my school being ATTACKED by ants and after I saved it I had know clue what it was.

    • profile image

      Leeyah 

      10 months ago

      I have a caterpillar in my room and I don’t know what kind of caterpillar it is. It is a light green color with purple squares or something on its back

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      No name 

      10 months ago

      I found a caterpillar that has 3 stripes it is black then orange then black

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      Michelle Na'ayem 

      10 months ago

      Hi! I found a 3” rust colored smooth caterpillar with yellow bands and green head and tail. We are in Oklahoma. Any ideas? Thank you!

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      Sharlene 

      10 months ago

      I live in Barcelona, Spain and yesterday, found two beautiful bright green caterpillars with black stripes and Brigit orange dots, amongst my parsley plant. They look to be black swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. Is that possible in Europe? And shall I just leave them in the parsley with a strong stick to cling to?

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      Lukaa 

      10 months ago

      I saw a Mourning Cloak caterpillar on the sidewalk when I was very young. I was afraid to touch it because I thought it might sting, but I didn't want it to get smashed so I let it crawl onto a piece of paper and carried it home. It pupated soon after (thank goodness because I didn't know what kind of leaves it ate) and became a butterfly which we let go in our yard once its wings dried off. One of the happiest experiences of my life.

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      Julia 

      10 months ago

      My son saw a brown fuzzy caterpillar that looks like a twig and has itchy hairs now there are loads of them on a bush. What are they and will it become a butterfly or a moth. If it’s a moth will it have a mouth and will the caterpillars spin a cocoon?

    • profile image

      John Gladstone 

      10 months ago

      John Gladstone.We found a large Catapillar in my sons backyard here in San Diego. I have some good pictures of it and would like to be able to identify exactly what type of Catapillar it is and what type of moth or butterfly it will turn into. Where do I send these pictures and get an answer to my question?

    • profile image

      Hailey 

      11 months ago

      I found a caterpillar that's all orange and fuzzy. I haven't touched it so i don't know if it tingles or what.

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      Random Person 

      11 months ago

      I found a red striped caterpillar, with spikes. It's green, too. It only has stripes on its sides, and has very long antennas. It tingles when I touch it, but not hairy. Is it poisonous? It has little bumps everywhere too. I think it's scared of me. Should I not touch it?

    • profile image

      alex 

      11 months ago

      i found a catapillar green with dark green no hair

      lines have ideas

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      JENNY 

      11 months ago

      We found quite a few caterpillars, all the same, when we were hop picking. Quite big and furry, yellow with black uniform markings across it. Any ideas?

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      Sahil 

      11 months ago

      I am from Punjab,India and found a three different caterpillars in the previous two weeks but am unable to find their info , not even from net

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      Barbidahl 

      11 months ago

      Hi :) I live in CT. It has been brutally humid. Tonight I saw a huge, brownish black caterpillar outside on my stone steps. And I mean huge, as thought it was a thick baby snake at first! It had a large whitish 'helmet' on the top of it's head with a huge oval black dot in the middle of the white 'helmet'. When I touched it, it would flick very fast from side to side in a circular motion. It was very thick around and very long, about 3" long. NO hairs and super smooth. I took pix and enlarged them to see a million round white circles on it's body and a rear end horn. It seemed slow moving and docile. I picked it up with my hands and it did not try to bite me and just stayed still on my hand, clinging with it's suction cup legs. I brought him to the brush and trees on my property and gently let him go on the grass. He stayed there. I checked on him about 20 minutes later and it was gone. I have never seen this type of huge, huge caterpillar at night or any time in my lifetime here in Connecticut. I have pix but can't upload one here? Do you know what this seemingly rare caterpillar is here in East Hampton CT with lots of farms and woods around me? And what kind of moth or butterfly would it turn into? Thank you ever so much!! Best regards, Barb

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      Pauline 

      12 months ago

      I have just found a caterpillar that was dark in colour, no hair, no distinguishable head and three black spots down each side at the front of the body and about three inches long, does anybody know what it might be?

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      Faith 

      12 months ago

      I have a big tree next to my porch and it has about 1000 white caterpillars with black heads what kind are these and what will they turn into?

    • profile image

      Lily huddleston 

      12 months ago

      I just found these green caterpillars with black stripes and small yellow stripes.

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      Fran 

      12 months ago

      Have a lot of theses guys on my milkweed therer cute to look at.

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      Cj 

      12 months ago

      Grandson found a 1 1/2” catopiller reddish brown in color eating my leaves on the pond water Lilly’s any info on what it will be

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      Cody 

      12 months ago

      I found a group of yellow and black caterpillars with a main color of peach-cream color what are their names and what are they going to turn into.

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      Lnda 

      12 months ago

      Love this website. I used to raise caterpillars. It was always exciting to see what came out of the cocoon or chrysalis

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      hello hello 

      12 months ago

      we found a moth with a green body and a brown back in cornwall it has a spicky thing at the end of it and is about 3 inches long

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      Ciara 

      12 months ago

      I have a black Caterpillar with a red head can someone please help me I can’t find what type it is.!?

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      alliekat18 

      12 months ago

      I have what I thought were Papilio Machaon caterpillars, however my boyfriend is convinced they are Papilio Polyxenes, is there any sure way to tell the difference between the caterpillars?

    • greenmind profile imageAUTHOR

      GreenMind Guides 

      12 months ago from USA

      Hi -- it could be Eacles imperialis, the imperial moth.

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      Hope 

      12 months ago

      Found a big greeb catepillar with tiny white horns throughout its body and yellow feet. Ontario canada

    • profile image

      I found a brown striped caterpillar, it seems to have a retractable tail 

      13 months ago

      Brown

      Striped

    working

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