Type of Caterpillars – Caterpillars represent one stage of the developmental process – the larval stage – during which their main purpose is to eat and grow. Caterpillars undertake incredible transformation during their brief lifespan before becoming a butterfly. They shed their skin several times throughout that journey, which often gives them the opportunity to re-design themselves into an entirely new shape; one instar phase may even change into another.
After this, butterfly caterpillars usually go through a final round of molting and transform into a hard chrysalis. They remain in this form until they re-emerge as beautiful moths. Some moth caterpillars also spin themselves a silky cocoon to save their assets from predators
We always knew birds were cool, but apparently they’re not the only creatures that can be identified in the wild! Whether you love identifying caterpillars or other insects in the flora, here’s a before-and-after look at some of Mother Nature’s most notable species.
- Spicebush Inside Type of Caterpillars
- Do Hickory Is Type of Caterpillars
- Monarch Is Type of Caterpillars
- Puss (Southern Flannel Moth) Caterpillar
- Zebra Longwing Butterfly Caterpillar
- Saddleback Caterpillar Moth
- Owl Butterfly Caterpillar
- Cecropia Moth Caterpillar
- Cairns Birdwing Butterfly Caterpillar
- Hag Moth (Monkey Slug) Caterpillar
Spicebush Inside Type of Caterpillars
The first thing you’ll notice about type of caterpillars are disguise to ward off potential predators. False eyespots ringed with black look just like the real deal and are a spectacular example of camouflage, but this level of detail is remarkable, including black pupils with white highlights that resemble light reflections. This hornlike organ (called an osmeterium) that the Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar releases through its mouth oozes a chemical that’s toxic to predators.
Widespread throughout the Eastern US, these creatures tend to stay hidden from view during the day and come out at night. They have a preference for certain types of foliage, including red bay, sassafras and spicebush. They become black-bodied butterflies with blue patches and rows of light spots along the edges.
Do Hickory Is Type of Caterpillars
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The hickory horned devil is a harmless, giant caterpillar. One of the largest caterpillars in North America can grow up to five inches in length. Everything about them — from their startling turquoise-green bodies and black spikes to their prickly orange horns — can send a shiver down someone’s spine. Though they may seem scary at first it’s all just a ruse. Forest caterpillars are super gentle.
They tend to feast on the leaves of hickory, ash, persimmon, sycamore and walnut trees and will usually burrow into the ground after feasting in late summer (they’re one of the few moth caterpillars that do this). The following summer, they emerge as butterflies and can range from orange, gray and cream/white colored with a six inch wingspan.
Monarch Is Type of Caterpillars
Lynda / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Come spring, female monarchs exclusively lay their eggs on milkweed plants. Once hatched, these strikingly striped orange, black, and white caterpillars devour their nutritious eggshell and gorging on the leafy plant to grow quickly. After two weeks the caterpillars enter their pupa stage and start to shrink, accumulating cardenolide toxins that, years ago, drove predatory birds to extinction.
After the food fest, type of caterpillars attach themselves to a leaf or stem and turn into a chrysalis. Then they emerge as the brightly coloured, orange-, black- and white-winged butterflies that are so popular. Monarchs roost and feed around the world, but primarily in North, Central, and South America. Each fall, millions of monarchs embark on a long distance migration to their wintering grounds–Mexico during the warmer months and California during the colder months.
Puss (Southern Flannel Moth) Caterpillar
Judy Gallagher / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
It’s tempting to pet these fuzzy little critters, but you should avoid this for safety reasons. The puss caterpillar is known as one of the most venomous caterpillars in America. Though they look like a cute fluffy fur ball beneath the hairs, what they cover up are toxic spines that poke and attach themselves to anything near by. Getting stung by a caterpillar can be super painful. The more of them you see, the worse the pain. They may cause headache, fever, nausea & vomiting and even shock or respiratory distress if they’re mature enough
Zebra Longwing Butterfly Caterpillar
DeadEyeArrow / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Lots of these ferocious looking caterpillars feed on the leaves of several types of passion flower. But this preference doesn’t just come down to nutrition; it’s also about protection against predators. Passion flower contains toxic, bitter-tasting psychotropic chemicals which can act as natural predator repellant. The larva of the zebra longwing have a very unpleasant taste that is reinforced by their black spots and spiky exterior.
These menacing creatures are widespread in Central American, Mexican, and Southern US states. As they mature to adulthood, they eventually turn from imposing adults to butterflies with long wings which are known for their beauty, narrow wings, adorned with black and yellow streaks
Saddleback Caterpillar Moth
Judy Gallagher / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
It’s not hard to see how this caterpillar got its name: It’s all in the neon green “saddle” on its back, edged in white with a purplish-brown oval spot in the center. Vibrant colors are yet another way Mother Nature sends out a warning. Though these strange bugs are found mostly in the eastern US, Mexico and Central America, they grow up to be around an inch long. They have four, hair-like tentacles lined with poisonous spines that deliver a powerful sting — Their tentacles are comprised of two rows in front and two in back — as well as many small, stinging protrusions lining their sides.
Owl Butterfly Caterpillar
Harald Süpfle / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5
These slug-like caterpillars have a brown body and can grow up to six inches in length before progressing into equally impressive butterflies with a wing span of over five inches. These ravenous caterpillars spend most of their time gobbling banana leaves and sugar cane.
Owl butterflies are the only type of butterfly with strong eye spots on their wings. They have a pupil and iris just like regular eyes, which can be used as a defense mechanism against their predators.
Owl butterfly. Pseudopanax / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Cecropia Moth Caterpillar
Michael Hodge / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
These green bruisers, spanning through the U.S. and Canada, can reach four+ inches in length while they’re plumping up. As they get heavier, they turn from black to a bluish-sea green color (like the one pictured below). That’s because it’s all about the act of reproduction. They’ve evolved to improve their chances of survival during mating season. As you can see, they don’t always use these spines in their day-to-day lives, so it won’t be dangerous when they come in for your next dental appointment
Cecropia moth caterpillars do not sting or cause harm to humans; they morph into North America’s largest moth and one of its most spectacular species. Moth Adults have a reddish orange body and brown wings with markings of orange, tan, and white – with white crescent-shaped marks and eye spots.
Cairns Birdwing Butterfly Caterpillar
Clint Budd / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
These spiky locals of northeastern Australia have an unusual way of starting their life. They are native to Aristolochia vine, which is poisonous for other caterpillars and people. However, the Cairns birdwing caterpillar feeds on it happily and thrives on it, Butterflies are born with toxins stored in spines on their back. This is a defense mechanism that can be quite deadly for predators of their country. They are colored brightly with red, orange, and yellow colors of them to look attractive to their prospective mates.
Hag Moth (Monkey Slug) Caterpillar
Greg Dwyer / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5
The hag moth caterpillar may look similar to a hairy spider, but is in fact called a `monkey slug caterpillar`—and it’s quite strange. But looks can be deceiving – this creature resides up its own special row. It has a very unusual-looking body, with partially curly, hairy protuberances on the sides of its head. It looks nothing like any other types of caterpillars. Those hairs can often irritate people and lead to an allergic reaction in some, especially in those who are more sensitive.