Caterpillar Types and Identification Guide

Updated on June 21, 2018
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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 an awesome-looking caterpillar outside? Identify it with the help of this guide! Is your caterpillar rare? Does it sting? What does it eat? What does it turn into? Here you will find photographs and descriptions of many of the different caterpillar types found 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.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dc/Caterpillar_at_5th_stage.jpg
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dc/Caterpillar_at_5th_stage.jpg

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.

Does This Caterpillar Sting?

While most caterpillars rely on camouflage and distasteful chemicals for protection, some have spines and hairs that can sting you.

I hope you enjoy this guide and find it useful. From six-inch long beasties with curved horns and jagged spikes to the familiar, furry wooly bear, here are some of the most commonly encountered caterpillars of North America.

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

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 -- the osmeterium is just for show
  • 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 genus Halysidota, which includes many similar species found all over the US. In some ways, it looks better 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 tubercles 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. Polyphemus eat maple, birch, willow, and several other trees but are seldom abundant enough to cause any 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 the eaves 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

Wooly 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 has many attractive and far-flung members. Wooly 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.

As with the sycamore tussock moth, I think the wooly bear moth looks much cooler as a caterpillar. The moth's grey-ish brown coloring makes it easy to camouflage itself, I'd rather look at the caterpillar's snazzy black and yellow coloring.

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

Pyrrharctia Isabella Moth
Pyrrharctia Isabella Moth

Io Moth Caterpillar

Source

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 actually brushed the spines against my arm on purpose to see what all the fuss was about. Did it sting? Yes -- kind of like stinging nettles, not intense, but the kind of thing you don't want to repeat. A good protection for a caterpillar to have!

It turns into a beautiful-looking moth as well. The eye-spots look like little pieces of jewelry. Check it out below!

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

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 trunk. In some cases, entire 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 entire 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.

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 on the level of the dreaded gypsy moth, and like the gypsy moth 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 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 caterpillar 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 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 "osmeterium," a red, forked organ that it can stick out from behind its head when it's feeling bothered. The osmeterium 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.

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/

Questions & Answers

  • My son sent me a picture of what he says is a tomato hornworm caterpillar, but it is not green and I don't see the horns, however, it is very large and brown. Any ideas?

    I think what you described is a caterpillar of the pandorus sphinx moth, Eumorpha pandorus. Have a look online and see if it matches your description of being a very large and brown caterpillar. It's related to the tomato hornworm but very different in appearance.

  • On my driveway, I found a brownish black caterpillar with black spots and a yellow underside. It's got two small tiny little pinchers on its butt. Do you know what kind of caterpillar it is? I can't find anything like it anywhere, and I didn't see it near any plants because it was just in the middle of my driveway and near some grass.

    I think you found a kind of moth caterpillar. The moth is called an "underwing moth," it's scientific name "Catocala." Do a Google image search and see if you find a match!

  • I found a large green caterpillar that had a single large black dot on it, near the head. It was around 3-4 inches long, and voraciously eating away at my plant. What would that have turned into?

    This sounds like a kind of sphinx moth caterpillar, family Sphingidae. The group includes tomato hornworms.

  • What is the name of a fuzzy black caterpillar?

    Could be the giant leopard moth, Ecpantheria scribona.

© 2012 GreenMind

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    • profile image

      Harmony Hull 

      5 hours ago

      I found a light yellow ish tan Catapillar. I have found 3 in the past 3 days. It has black dots on the top left and right going straight to the butt end from the head end. It has little white furs. What kind is it. I can tell that it will become a moth but unsure as to what type.

    • profile image

      Kris Kelly 

      3 days ago

      My daughter just found a giant green caterpillar this afternoon at the base of a dogwood tree in the grass. It isnt really moving, just kind of limp. Not sure if its injured, dying or what. We put it in our caterpillar house with some leaves and sticks. Silk worm moth? Luna moth? Its about 100 degrees here today.

    • profile image

      Andria Garriott 

      5 days ago

      We found strange looking catapillers today by Johnson Creek and The Spring Water Trail they had black and white stripes and no fur or spines of any kind but they did have thin almost invisible clear hair and no white stripes and one was bigger than the other one they were very interesting I even have a picture of them

    • profile image

      Someone 

      5 days ago

      I just found a Caterpillar that's brown with very big bright green spots, the poop coming out of this thing is huge for a caterpillar! I keep looking on the internet to see if it's poisonous or not, but i have found NOTHING that look even a little bit like it.

    • profile image

      jgarner1327 

      7 days ago

      I found three of these smooth gold and black caterpillars on a kale-looking weed and have never seen this kind before. About 3 cm long. Can you identify it for me? where can i post a picture?

    • profile image

      Somebody 

      10 days ago

      I found This caterpillar has a flat head jutting out of its grey body. It's belly is pink. If you look at it from the top,you can see small white dots on its back. On it's back, it has a greenly blue sting shaped body part, and a yellow paste smeared onto its bottom. I know it's not a slug as there is no trail of slime, but it moves slowly like a caterpillar, and if touched, will immediately become a small coil shape. Its back is bumpy. Please tell me, have I found a new species?

    • profile image

      someone 

      3 weeks ago

      i found a grayish caterpillar with little red lines with yellow whit spots on it with little tufts of hair and i don't know if its poisonous

    • profile image

      Jule 

      4 weeks ago

      I found a cocoon with a web thing around it, it’s green with a darker underneath and it is very small. It also has a white head on the cocoon. I hope this is enough info. I believe it has just settled into the cocoon and is still very young.

    • profile image

      lauren 

      4 weeks ago

      I found a white black and yellow catapillar. it is not on here. whare can I find it?

    • profile image

      Hayden Palm 

      4 weeks ago

      I found two little guys in the woods of Utah. Main body color black, light brown stripes go across their backs. Black fur on top, a lighter brown fur / spikes on bottom. Bottom of the catipillar is light brown. I've been raising them with my swallowtails, monarchs and painted ladies.

    • profile image

      Jasmine 

      5 weeks ago

      I found a fussy goldish catipillar about an inch and a half left no with a black stripe down it’s back, a black underbelly and black tufts of longer hairs in random spots. Do you know what it is?

    • profile image

      Begginpuppy 

      6 weeks ago

      I found a caterpillar in my driveway it was pretty big, I thought it was a Elephant Hawk Moth but it was lighter and didn’t have a big front. It had small

      orange and brown spots on its sides and it was a base creamy brown. What kind of caterpillar was it? (I live in the NWT)

    • profile image

      Mindy 

      6 weeks ago

      Great site. Found my caterpillar. White marked tussock moth.

      Thank you for the info

    • profile image

      Christian 

      6 weeks ago

      Mine is a

      Rainbow with spines

    • profile image

      lyric 

      2 months ago

      I did not know there fuzzy kinds!

    • profile image

      AnnaPiePie 

      2 months ago

      My caterpillar is light green with a bunch of little black dots on it in a line several of these lines on the caterpillar it feeds on my grape vines

      what type of caterpillar is it I try searching things like "caterpillar that feeds on grapevine" but none look like the ones I saw in my backyard

    • profile image

      Anastasia 

      2 months ago

      I found a cool caterpillar with a half of a sqare outline and it is about 2-3 inches long. But I'm not sure what it is. Or 8f it's rare. Can you tell me 8f you find 1. And also 6ell me what it will turn into if you find out?

    • profile image

      Unknown 

      2 months ago

      My dog just ate a catapillar that was brown with a darker brown patern down it's back. Is that ok?

    • profile image

      Jai 

      2 months ago

      i want to take care of this black fluffy catiplliar with a yellow stripe on its back although i found in on my dad's flip flop. do u have an idea of what it might be? please respond soon!

      thanks,

      Jai

    • profile image

      laura 

      2 months ago

      i have lots of black and green / yellow caterpilars in my back garden in south of spain wanted to k ow if they are moths or butterflies how can i tell???

      many thanks

    • profile image

      Kianna 

      2 months ago

      I found a green Caterpillar and don't now what is is and where i should put is back. And should it bee on my finger?

    • profile image

      Donna McCormack 

      2 months ago

      Found a large caterpillar on my sweet pea plant. med. brown, 1 1/2 inches long, slight white spots on the side, two protruding suckers at one end. I have pics but don't see how to send them to you. I think it's probably a moth.

    • profile image

      Steven 

      2 months ago

      I found a caterpillar and it is brown and grey and black do you have any ideas on what it might be

    • profile image

      Dani 

      2 months ago

      I found a brown and black caterpillar on my carpet and I put it outside i don’t know what it is do u

    • profile image

      Mr. Noatak 

      3 months ago

      Many years ago, in Washington state I saw a hairless white caterpillar that was larger than average. On top of its rear end was a bright-blue thorn-shaped hard appendage (curved) that pointed towards it's head. It looked threatening and behaved aggressively when I tried to touch it; it seemed to be trying to attack me with its "thorn". Snow-white with a bright-blue thorn- this must be a common species, right?

    • profile image

      Lil caterpillars 

      3 months ago

      I have a lot of these black caterpillars with yellow-ish dots going down a ling from the head to its behind...I also have one gray-ish caterpillar...which my family member told me about...I haven't seen it in person. I would LOVE to know if these are moths or butterflies...or both.

    • profile image

      Caterpillars 

      3 months ago

      I have a small caterpillar that looked like a cabbage looper at first but a few days later it's front legs turned black what type is it?

    • profile image

      Kelv 

      3 months ago

      I found a really small bright green caterpillar it doesnt have hair and idk where its face is also idk what its gonna grow into

    • profile image

      Randy Carey 

      4 months ago

      Found lo moth catapillars all I’ve my hibiscus eating the leaves how long does it take to turn into a larve

    • profile image

      Piggy 

      4 months ago

      Well Moonmonkey155, that was very descriptive... OF COUSE I CAN TELL YOU WHAT THAT IS!!!!

    • profile image

      Moonmonkey155 

      4 months ago

      I found a really small green caterpillar. its not furry or spikey. its in a cocoon right now and it kinda looks like silk. anyone know what kind it is????

    • profile image

      Lindsey 

      4 months ago

      I found a caterpillar its green not fury and has no face. Can anyone tell me what kind itf is

    • profile image

      Jaidyn 

      5 months ago

      I cant find out what caterpillar it is

      Its brown with black and yellow strips and its not furry

    • profile image

      akshay girish padvi 

      6 months ago

      i found a one caterpillar nad i dont know which is it who one tell me plz what type it and want to keeping it....

    • profile image

      Kimberly 

      7 months ago

      I saw a red head caterpillar right here in jamaica with black and yellow stripes and soft like feet. I came on here hoping to see one but did not what type is it

    • profile image

      Sakuya 

      7 months ago

      I have a black and white caterpiller. What type of butterfly will it become?

    • profile image

      Ginny Rosenbaum 

      7 months ago

      I found A really weird caterpillar in Belton, Texas, and We thought it is a Salt Moth Caterpillar but we checked here just incase and it didn't say anything, We found it near the lake and on some rocks, eats a lot, and is really Black and Fuzzy, Has a white mouth, and the Salt Moth Caterpillars aren't poisonous despite there fuzz, but we wanna make sure before we pick it up. Any Help on what kind it is??

    • profile image

      Heidi Schultz 

      7 months ago

      My friend sent me a picture of a Catipilar that stings him down. I advised him to be cautious, some are poisonous. I help Monarchs, but I'm not aware of this Cat. Any help will be much appreciated.

    • profile image

      Dylan 

      7 months ago

      I found a gray, white, and red caterpillar with a gray horn and is 2 inches. I found it at a parking lot and idk what to do. This caterpillar is very big and looks like its gonna turn into a pupa. Will it turn to a moth or butterfly? Plz tell me. Plus it like to go on dirt.

    • profile image

      vicki 

      8 months ago

      black with red feet about 3 inches long. what kind is it. caterpiller.

    • profile image

      Brenda 

      8 months ago

      I was just letting my fennel die out because no bulb was produced, and after coming back from a short trip I spied 11 caterpillars on the struggling plants. Your web site id'ed them as black swallow tails--I'm so thrilled. I'm again watering the plants and will protect the caterpillars with mesh. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Robert 

      9 months ago

      Yesterday morning my dogs were terrified by a 5 inch long caterpillar as thick as your index finger smooth skin pail green with a diamond pattern down its back and a spike pointed towards the head from the tail end. I cannot find any photo that matches it on the internet, any idea what it was.

    • profile image

      rodney 

      9 months ago

      great post ,thanks for the information. The one that is missing that we see in ohio alot is the small white butterflies.

    • profile image

      Sandy Fitzharris 

      9 months ago

      I found one of these Awesome caterpillars on a plant on my deck, so happy to see what he will become! Thank you!

    • profile image

      Joe 

      9 months ago

      Found but can’t ID

      Pink caterpillar with short vertical red stripes on rose bush.

    • profile image

      Jason brendon 

      9 months ago

      I have the tiger swollow tail caterpiller

    • profile image

      Liisa Hostetler 

      9 months ago

      Found this buddy on my snapdragons. Cannot ID. Can you help? Light green with small purple spots along the ridge of his back.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      10 months ago from Wisconsin

      This was very interesting. I'll pass this on to friends who homeschool. They would find it handy.

    • profile image

      Ann Stier 

      10 months ago

      Climbing up tree in Saint Peter, Mn.

    • profile image

      Ashley 

      10 months ago

      I found a hickory horn devil caterpillar.

    • Debbie Cordwell profile image

      Debbie Cordwell 

      10 months ago

      Beautiful images.

    • profile image

      Jeff 

      10 months ago from USA

      Yeah, lots of cool caterpillars.

    • profile image

      dianne oliger 

      11 months ago

      Thank you so much. We found a very interesting caterpillar and I now know it's the milkweed tiger moth caterpillar!

    • profile image

      rita 

      11 months ago

      what does a wooly black and white caterpillar turn into

    • Breelyn Sirk profile image

      Breelyn 

      11 months ago

      The tiger swallowtail caterpillar sort of reminds me of a salamander, the amphibian type. Am I even crazier than I originally thought ? Haha

    • Megan Machucho profile image

      Megan Machucho 

      11 months ago from Milwaukee, WI

      Great information! My daughter is always finding caterpillars outside and asking me what kind they are or what they'll turn in to. I'll have to keep referring back to this article!

    • Breelyn Sirk profile image

      Breelyn 

      12 months ago

      Wow this guide is amazing. I am awed with how much you know about caterpillars... for the longest time I really didn't like to get too close to creepy crawlies haha, but now that I am older and wiser, I am dying to take an Entomology class because insects are so fascinating.

    • profile image

      kitana 

      14 months ago

      I found a caterpillar but I don't know what type it is

    • profile image

      Dodo 

      15 months ago

      I found a few (7) white tussock caterpillars on my dads car a few days ago and now they live in the house in a milk jug and a jar. 4 of them passed away, 2 of them are now in what I suppose to be cocoons. I don't know where one is and the other is still young, and it just grew it's tussocks.

    • profile image

      yvonne stanbury 

      15 months ago

      i have just found a green two toned caterpilla about 2 inch long very aggressive and a large spike on its head i have looked through your pictures of caterpillars but it is not there i would like to know what it is

    • profile image

      Stephanie.k. 

      21 months ago

      I found a spicebush swallowtail caterpillar a few weeks ago and I believe he has now made a cucoon under my railing on my steps. I've been watching it's progress and it's pretty cool. Louisville, ky

    • profile image

      rabbitninja 

      21 months ago

      i found a rly hyper fuzzy caterpillar east long island new york october 3rd today. it had yellow on its black face and soft brown and orange fur. but it wasn't a wooly bear its not banded like that. it was kinda all brown body with orange fuzzy around it. super fuzzy and cute.

    • profile image

      Any Ortiz 

      21 months ago

      My daughter found a yellow green caterpillar with yellow spikes and is big I need to know is it poisonous or not?

    • profile image

      P.Nik 

      22 months ago

      Today I found 7 green caterpillars, they are adorable and have a white stripe in their sides and two dots on their heads, any idea?

      + they keep on eating and eating! What do I do? I have school tomorow, will they last with7-12 branches? (Small)

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      23 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      What an awesome collection of photos of caterpillars and butterflies. Real awesome to see them in living color. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Gemma woolsey 

      23 months ago

      I have a unknown plant in garden covers in catapiller but I can't find what they are and if there dangerous they have a orange head with green and orange body with black spots all over and no ferr or spikes

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      2 years ago from United States

      Think I saw a red admiral caterpillar on a rose bush today. Does that sound likely?

    • profile image

      how can anyone hate 

      2 years ago

      a caterpillar? as a comment above. There are species bigger and stronger than us, how you would you feel if they hated you because of who you are or looked like? evolve.

    • lrdl3535 profile image

      Richard Lindsay 

      2 years ago from California

      I have problems with Hornworms every summer. They love tomato plants and will eat them really quickly. Great post

    • greenmind profile imageAUTHOR

      GreenMind 

      2 years ago from USA

      Hi Annabanana -- Thanks for the question -- there are SO MANY kinds of brown caterpillars that I would have to see a picture of it to answer that.

    • profile image

      Annabanana 

      2 years ago

      What does a brown caterpillar look like as a butterfly?

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Awesome hub with excellent information on moth and butterfly identification on the caterpillars. I prefer butterflies over moths anyday of the week. Lovely photos too! Voted up!

    • profile image

      Kylie 

      3 years ago

      I found a caterpillar similar to the tomato one is Salt Lake City Utah. It is green, four inches long and has one horn on its butt. It has no other colors, is very fat and is segmented. It's not a tomato plant though. WHAT IS IT?

    • profile image

      Margot Rothwell 

      3 years ago

      i always thought the wooly bear caterpillar turned into a monarch because they are both orange and black. - thanks ,now I know.

    • Alexajones profile image

      Alexajones 

      3 years ago

      Really nice lens!

    • iamshermie profile image

      Shermie Mills 

      3 years ago from US

      This is really cool. I wonder how many species of caterpillar in every country. Thank you for sharing. Great day!

    • iamshermie profile image

      Shermie Mills 

      3 years ago from US

      This is really cool. I wonder how many species of caterpillar in every country. Thank you for sharing. Great day!

    • paulahite profile image

      Paula Hite 

      3 years ago from Virginia

      Fabulous lens! Shared on our G+ page today!!

      https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/10593843672309975630...

    • profile image

      enriquesalinas03 

      3 years ago

      @sonicthehedgehog30741: me too yesterday

      the same day as you but i found three and there in there cacoons

    • profile image

      enriquesalinas03 

      3 years ago

      yes one that i have an american dagger moth caterpillar in its cacoon

    • profile image

      enriquesalinas03 

      3 years ago

      @mysterybutterfly: i have a american dagger moth caterpillar in its cacoon

    • profile image

      sonicthehedgehog30741 

      3 years ago

      The only thing I like is hedgehogs

    • profile image

      sonicthehedgehog30741 

      3 years ago

      I hate bugs and caterpillars but I found a cool one today.

      A yellow hairy caterpillar

      Its a American Dagger caterpillar

    • profile image

      forest01 

      3 years ago

      I have caterpillars

      that are covered with twigs and small pieces of bark as camo. Any idea what they are?

    • profile image

      eagle40 

      3 years ago

      Found a caterpillar green with dots and lookd like a stinger on its but about as big as my first fingure

    • profile image

      kezzerlyn1 

      3 years ago

      I found a caterpillar it is redish brown it has a diamond pattern on with horns or anteni on the back end it is a bout as big as my index finger ???

    • profile image

      suescrib 

      3 years ago

      Pale bluish caterpillar, blue more distinct in segment folds, with same darker blue lines running in between segments (but not stripes). Yellow prolegs. Some hairs. Found in southwestern MA Berkshires.

    • profile image

      melmischief 

      4 years ago

      A black caterpillar with orange spikes & long antennas on the side of its head

    • profile image

      karencgrob 

      4 years ago

      An inch or inch and a half bright green but smooth no visible hair or bumps

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 

      4 years ago

      This is such a wonderful lens with those beautiful caterpillar photographs. Thank you!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 

      4 years ago from GRENADA

      Really interesting caterpillar lens, webkangaroo! I especially enjoyed seeing what the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly or moth. Nicely done and thanks for sharing. And congratulations on your well-deserved Purple Star!

    • profile image

      raini-123 

      4 years ago

      more than 2 black stripes

    • profile image

      raini-123 

      4 years ago

      i have a green caterpillar with black stripes. It has no hair.Please help me figure out what it is and what it eats.

    • profile image

      raini-123 

      4 years ago

      i have a green caterpillar with black stripes. It has no hair.Please help me figure out what it is and what it eats.

    • profile image

      raini-123 

      4 years ago

      i have a green caterpillar with black stripes. It has no hair.Please help me figure out what it is and what it eats.

    • profile image

      mysterybutterfly 

      4 years ago

      I have brown caterpillar with tan stripes. It has no hair. I think it eats milkweed. Please help me identify it.

    • profile image

      raini-123 

      4 years ago

      i have a green caterpillar with black stripes. It has no hair.Please help me figure out what it is and what it eats.

    • profile image

      raini-123 

      4 years ago

      i have a caterpillar that is green and has 2 black stripes.it is not spiky,and has no hair.what is it and what does it eat?

    • profile image

      sheba-collinsmason 

      4 years ago

      Is there a way to send a photo of a caterpillar here? mine is lt.brown in color has neon green dots low on either side (1) one each section he/she fell out of a maple tree.

    • profile image

      deaton2002 

      4 years ago

      white caterpillar with a black line down the back and dots on sides WHAt KIND IS IT

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