Types of Caterpillars – There are just as many types of caterpillars are there are butterflies and moths.
Each one has its own special characteristics coming in a variety of colors, some with hair and some with no hair, various appendages and exclusive host plants.
Types of Caterpillars
Although there are endless caterpillar species, below are a few common types that house many subspecies.
These types of caterpillars are commonly known as inchworms. They receive this name from the very unusual way they travel that appears as though they are measuring something upward.
When they move, they only use the initial segment along with the prolegs found on the last segment and they form loops while they are moving, giving them the “looper” name.
They are usually gray, green or brown which allows them to easily blend in on twigs and leaves to avoid predators. These caterpillars are smooth with no hair and they feed on leaves, pollen and flowers.
The Hesperiidae family of caterpillars have constricted necks and large heads. Their body is much wider in the middle than it is on the ends.
They have an anal comb, helping them expel excreta in a direction away from their feeding place or shelter. These caterpillars have hair on every body segment, they find their shelter in folding leaves and they are nocturnal.
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These types of caterpillars belonging to the Sphingidae family receive the name of hornworms. The name is due to the appendages found on their abdomen that are horn-like.
Beneath the anal plate they have flat prolegs, forming the shape of a triangle. These caterpillars come in a variety of colors and some tropical species resemble miniature snakes.
4. Regal Moth Caterpillars
These caterpillars are part of the Ceratocampinae family with a horn by their head and then another on their eighth or sometimes ninth abdominal segment.
A few species have a bit of hair on their body and they descend into the ground to search for pupating sites.
5. Silk Moth Caterpillars
Silk moth caterpillars belong to the Saturniidae family. These types of caterpillars are quite large and can be up to four inches long and have scoli on their sides and backs of their bodies.
They live on shrubs and trees but in the later part of summer they descend toward the ground to find debris and begin to spin their cocoon.
6. Swallowtail Caterpillars
These caterpillars produce the largest and most colorful butterflies. Each caterpillar is unique and brightly colored with very fine hair all over it.
Most of them have scent glands and retractable tentacles that they use to scare away predators.
8. Tiger Moth Caterpillars
These types of caterpillars are often called “woolly bears” because of the dense hair covering their bodies.
Their bodies are usually brightly colored and they are primarily found in the fall while they are searching for a place to hibernate.
These are moth producing caterpillars that have hairless bodies with the presence of spines, tubercles or humps.
They are characterized by their unusual shapes and the fact that they can attack an intruder by shooting acid from a glad found on their thoracic segment.
Attempting to identify different types of caterpillars is not an easy thing to do since there are literally thousands of different species.
It is important to note that the hair from certain caterpillars can cause health problems to humans and there are at least 12 species that have the ability to inflict severe human injury through poisons found in their hair fibers.
It is advised to not handle caterpillars with your bare hands unless you are sure of the species.