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*** Note: KnowYourInsects.org does its best to include correct identifications of insect photos. It’s always possible that we made a mistake, however, so if you see a misidentification, please contact us and we will correct it. Thanks!

Caterpillars and Pupae (both butterflies and moths) of Order Lepidoptera — Examples
For adult butterflies, click here.
For adult moths, click here.


Families represented below:
Cossidae Erebidae Eupterotidae Geometridae Lasiocampidae Limacodidae
Noctuidae Notodontidae Nymphalidae Papilionidae Pieridae Psychidae
Limacodidae Saturniidae Sphingidae Tineidae Zygaenidae

Geometridae, the geometer moths

Blue Tiger Moth (Dysphania percota)
Blue tiger moth, caterpillar to pupa, Dysphania percota, subfamily Geometrinae, family Geometridae.
□ This caterpillar of the blue tiger moth has a black-spotted blue stripe down its back and yellow sides. The adult moth is black and silvery-blue. To see the adult, click here (India Biodiversity Portal).
Photographed and identified to order by: Sharon Pais Graca Pinto. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Santarbhat, Goltim, Piedade, Divar, Goa, India. Date: 3 September, 2020.
Caterpillar and pupa (Pero spp.)
Geometer moth, metamorphosis from caterpillar to pupa, genus Pero, subfamily Ennominae, family Geometridae.
□ The photographer found this caterpillar of a geometer moth hanging from the tread of a car tire, and reared it in a small aquarium. In three days, it metamorphosed into the pupa shown here. See what happened next in the following photo.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. To see the full-size images, click here for the caterpillar, and here for the pupa. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date (for caterpillar): 18 August, 2017. Date (for pupa): 21 August, 2017.
Pupa metamorphosis (Pero spp.)
Geometer moth, metamorphosis from pupa to adult, genus Pero, subfamily Ennominae, family Geometridae.
□ Continued from the previous photo of the geometer moth: The pupa darkened the following day, and a few weeks later, it transformed into this moth. This was all captured by photographer Thomas Langhans. Thank you, Thomas!
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. To see the full-size images, click here for the pupa, and here for the adult. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date (for pupa): 22 August, 2017. Date (for adult): 12 September, 2017.
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Horned Spanworm Moth (Nematocampa resistaria)
Horned Spanworm Moth, caterpillar, Nematocampa resistaria, subfamily Ennominae, family Geometridae.
□ This unusual caterpillar of a horned spanworm moth has four long projections or “horns,” and when it feels threatened, it extends its horns straight out, as seen here. Otherwise, the horns are retracted to about half this size and held in a somewhat-curled position.
□ The adult is creamy beige, sometimes more yellow in males, with brown vein-like markings, and usually a broad brown edge, an appearance that looks like a leaf. To see the adult, click here (bugguide.net). Photographed and identified to order by: Amanda Barker. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: near London, Ontario, Canada. Date: 15 June, 2020.
Amanda says, “Definitely odd-looking creature with horns.”
Horned Spanworm Moth (Nematocampa resistaria)
Horned Spanworm Moth, caterpillar, Nematocampa resistaria, subfamily Ennominae, family Geometridae.
□ This four “horns,” on this horned spanworm moth, also known as a filament bearer, are retracted a bit, but they can extend much longer. The photographer believes this caterpillar just went thruogh its third molt. See his other comments below.
Photographed and identified by: Jamie Lew. Location: Unknown. Date: 19 June, 2021.
Jamie says, “One of my favorites! A filament bearer found on mountian mahogany as well as butterfly bush and laurel.”
Cross-line Wave Moth caterpillar (Traminda aventiaria)
Cross-line wave moth, caterpillar, Traminda aventiaria, subfamily Sterrhinae, family Geometridae.
□ The cross-line wave moth caterpillar has two projections in the middle of the body — they look almost like antennae! Like other members of the Geometridae family, the caterpillars typically rest in a looped position as seen here.
□ To see the adult of this moth, click here (iNaturalist).
Photographed by: Cody Lai. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Hong Kong. Date: 29 April, 2021.
Looper, Operophtera brumata
Looper, quite possibly the caterpillar of a winter moth, Operophtera brumata, subfamily Larentiinae, family Geometridae.
□ This looper has only two pairs of legs (actually called prolegs) on the rear half of its body, and this is a feature of the caterpillar of a winter moth (to see the adult, click here). Winter moths are invasive species in eastern North America — originally from Europe—, and they are a major pest of many trees, including hardwoods such as oak and maple, and fruit trees. For more information about this species, click here (Mass Audubon).
Photographed and identified to family by: Celia Godwin. Location: eastern Ontario, Canada. Date: 28 May, 2012.
Inchworm, family Geometridae
Inchworm, caterpillar in the family Geometridae.
Inchworms inch along in this looping type of movement, and the family name of Geometridae means earth-measuring, which apparently refers to this movement. Compared to other caterpillars, inchworms have fewer appendages — six up front near the head, and typically four at the rear, but none in between. When an inchworm feels threatened, it will often become rigid, so it looks like a little twig.
Photographed and identified to family by: Joyce Kay. Location: Castlegar British Columbia, Canada. Date: 29 July, 2019.
Inchworm, family Geometridae
Inchworm, caterpillar in the family Geometridae.
□ Can you spot the inchworm in this photo? Look carefully. It is the upright “stick” to the left of the sloe berry. When in this straight-up position, it is well-protected from the view of predators. Kudos to the photographer for spotting it! (And see the comment below.)
Photographed by: Eleanor Russell. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: East Clare, Ireland. Date: autumn, 2020.
Eleanor’s guess was that it was a stick insect, and it is easy to see why. She says, “Extremely well camouflaged!”
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Zygaenidae, the leaf skeletonizer moths

Leaf skeletonizer moth caterpillar (subfamily Callizygaeninae of family Zygaenidae)
Leaf skeletonizer moth, caterpillar, subfamily Callizygaeninae, family Zygaenidae.
□ The adult leaf skeletonizer moth and the caterpillar (as shown here) are both brightly colored, and that color helps to tell potential predators that their bodies are distasteful — in fact, leaf skeletonizer moths contain hydrogen cyanide, which they either make themselves or get from the plants they eat.
Photographed by: Padmanabhan Narashiman. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Bentong, Pahang, Malaysia. Date: 28 June, 2016.
Padmanabhan took this photo while hiking a mountain in Malaysia.

Extra information about the Zygaenidae family:
□The leaf skeletonizer moth gets its name from the caterpillar’s habit of eating leaf tissue but not the leaf veins, so they leave the leaf “skeletons” behind. Adult Leaf Skeletonizer Moths typically fly during the day, rather than at night as most other moths do.
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Noctuidae, the owlet moths

Cutworm (Spodoptera spp.)
Cutworm, Spodoptera, probably a Cotton Cutworm, Spodoptera litura, subfamily Noctuinae, family Noctuidae.
□ The cutworm gets its name from its penchant for chewing through the base of seedlings. Many a gardener has found a series of little seedlings chopped down by cutworms.
Photographed by: Surani Pratik. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: India. Date: 18 August, 2016.
Black cutworm (Agrotis ipsilon)
Black cutworm, which will metamorphose into an ipsilon dart moth, Agrotis ipsilon, subfamily Noctuinae, family Noctuidae.
□ Note the unusual pseudopods (the “feet”) on this black cutworm. Some caterpillars in this species are quite dark on the dorsal side (like this one) and others are more of a yellowish-tan, as shown here (article in Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Photographed by: Dave Brigham. Identified with help from: entomologist Duke Elsner, WhatsThatBug.com. Thank you, Duke! Location: Lansing, Michigan, USA. Date: July 2015.
Black cutworm (Agrotis ipsilon)
Black cutworm, which will metamorphose into an ipsilon dart moth, Agrotis ipsilon, subfamily Noctuinae, family Noctuidae.
□ Note the defensive posture of this black cutworm. It is rare to get a photo of the underside of a caterpillar.
Photographed by: Dave Brigham. Identified with help from: entomologist Duke Elsner, WhatsThatBug.com. Location: Lansing, Michigan, USA. Date: July 2015.
Noctuin caterpillar (Noctuidae)
Noctuin caterpillar, subfamily Noctuinae, family Noctuidae.
□ Identifier David L. Wagner of the University of Connecticut, says this noctuin caterpillar could be in the genera Agrotis, Feltia or Euxoa, or something similar. He said this caterpillar likely feeds on dandelions and other forbs (forbs are non-grass flowering plants).
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: David L. Wagner, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut. Thank you, Dr. Wagner! See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 9 September, 2017.
Lantana Stick Moth caterpillar (Neogalea sunia)
Lantana stick moth, caterpillar, Neogalea sunia, subfamily Oncocnemidinae, family Noctuidae.
□ The caterpillar of the lantana stick moth has a subdued wavy pattern. The adult has silvery brown forewings, and pearly white hind wings. To see the adult, click here. The caterpillar can reduce flowering on lantana, but tends to affect lantanas with flowers of certain colors (purple, white and red/yellow) less than those with other-colored flowers, according to a 2010 study.
□ A helpful hint in identifying caterpillars is to check what plant it is found on — sometimes it is a big help (see the photographer’s comment below).
Photographed and identified by: Lauren DeRosa. Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Date: 14 May, 2020.
Lauren spotted this caterpillar on a branch of common lantana (Lantana camara).
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Iris Borer Moth caterpillar (Macronoctua onusta)
Iris borer moth, caterpillar, Macronoctua onusta, subfamily Acronictinae, family Noctuidae.
□ This iris borer moth caterpillar is sitting on the gardener/photographer’s hand (top photo). It was removed from inside the rhyzome (the root-like structure) of an iris (bottom photo). See the photographer’s comment below.
Photographed and identified by: Kyle Lengerich. Location: Location: Greenwood, Indiana, USA. Date: 24 July, 2018.
Kyle says, “Found this guy while thinning iris just now.... Now I have to go back and check all the ryhzomes I’ve already pulled out.”
American Dagger Moth caterpillar (Acronicta americana)
American dagger moth, caterpillar, Acronicta americana, subfamily Acronictinae, family Noctuidae.
□ The caterpillar of the American dagger moth is covered with long yellow hairs. The caterpillar also has a pair of longer black tufts of stiffer hair toward the head, a pair toward its middle, and one more long black tuft at the rear. Touching this caterpillar can cause stinging/burning/itching, so it is best not to handle them.
Photographed by: Jeffrey Landis. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA. Date: 5 June, 2013.
American Dagger Moth caterpillar (Acronicta americana)
American dagger moth, caterpillar, Acronicta americana, subfamily Acronictinae, family Noctuidae.
□ Compared to this caterpillar of the American dagger moth, the adult of the species is has a much more subtle coloration in shades of beige-gray. To see the adult, click here (bugguide.net).
□ This species was first described by American entomologist Thaddeus W. Harris in 1841. It is a rather large moth with a wingspan of 2 inches (5 cm) or more and is widespread in the eastern United States, but also extends west to the Pacific Northwest and north into southern Canada.
Photographed and identified to order by: Kim Thiel. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Dickinson, North Dakota, USA. Date: 12 September, 2020.
American Dagger Moth caterpillar (Acronicta americana)
American dagger moth, caterpillar, Acronicta americana, subfamily Acronictinae, family Noctuidae.
□ The American dagger moth caterpillar looks similar to that of the spotted apatelodes, but the latter has a row of short black hairs down its back, whereas the American dagger caterpillar has a few long black hairs (as seen here).
Photographed and identified to family by: Peg Hill-Callahan. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Kensington Metropark, Milford, Michigan, USA. Date: 5 September, 2020.
Lily Moth caterpillar (Polytela gloriosae)
Lily moth caterpillar, Polytela gloriosae, subfamily Arsenurinae, family Noctuidae.
□ The caterpillar of the lily moth (sometimes called the Indian Lily Moth) is covered with bright orange-red and white markings, a stark contrast to the black background color. The caterpillars do eat lilies, including the poisonous Flame Lily (Gloriosa superba), which is sometimes used in traditional medicine. The adult Lily Moth is a gorgeous blue-gray moth embellished with patches of pink, yellow, white and black. To see the adult, click here. Photographed by: P. M. Harisha. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Palakkad, Kerala, India. Date: 19 April, 2020.
Lily Moth caterpillars (Polytela gloriosae)
Lily moth, caterpillars, Polytela gloriosae, subfamily Arsenurinae, family Noctuidae.
□ This pretty black, orange and white lily moth caterpillar will become a colorful blue-gray adult with pink, black, yellow and cream markings. To see the photos of adult and caterpillars, click here. Photographed by: Priyadarshini Agrawal. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Kolkata, West Bengal, India. Date: 15 October, 2019.
Palm Flower Moth caterpillar (Litoprosopus coachella)
Palm flower moth, caterpillar, Litoprosopus coachella, subfamily Dyopsinae, family Noctuidae.
□ This palm flower moth caterpillar is pretty in pink, and is fond of palms. The adult moth is a silver to silvery-yellow color with doubled black eyespot on each hind wing. To see the adult, click here (Bugguide.net).
Photographed by: Hilary Barton. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Location: Arizona, USA. Date: 17 May, 2019.
Old World Bollworm caterpillar (Helicoverpa armigera)
Old World bollworm, caterpillar, Helicoverpa armigera, subfamily Dyopsinae, family Noctuidae.
□ This Old World bollworm is considered a pest almost around the world. According to, Environmental Entomology, the caterpillar’s diet includes a variety of ecoomically important crops, such as "cotton, pigeonpea, chickpea, sunflower, corn, chili, tomato, and okra." For this reason, it sometimes goes by the alternate common names of cotton bollworm or corn earworm. This one was on a pink rose.
Photographed and identified by: Shefali Chaudhari. Nice job, Shefali! Location: Gujarat, India. Date: 13 July, 2020.
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Saturniidae, the saturniid moths

Luna Moth caterpillar (Actias luna)
Luna moth caterpillar, Actias luna, subfamily Saturniinae, family Saturniidae.
□ The caterpillars of the luna moth and polyphemus moth look very similar. The most noticeable difference between the two is that the polyphemus moth caterpillar has a large gray “X” on its rear end, and the luna moth does not. To see the adult luna and polyphemus moths, which look nothing alike, click here to go up to the Saturniidae family section.
Photographed and identified by: Norine Nichols. Location: Sterling Heights, Michigan, USA. Date: 21 July, 2016.
Norine says, “It is huge and was sure moving at a good speed across the lawn.”
Luna Moth caterpillar (Actias luna)
Luna moth, caterpillar, Actias luna, subfamily Saturniinae, family Saturniidae.
□ The luna moth caterpillar almost looks like its head is poking out of green turtle neck or a child’s green fun tunnel. Photographed by: Dawn Jenkins. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Houston area, Texas, United States. Date: 12 July, 2017.
Luna Moth caterpillar (Actias luna)
Luna moth, caterpillar, Actias luna, subfamily Saturniinae, family Saturniidae.
□ This luna moth caterpillar is pictured here from the rear end. This caterpillar will sometimes take on a peach hue as it prepares to pupate. Luna moth caterpillars have a characteristic accordion-shaped body, which is covered by short hairs (very evident in this photo). A similar peach-colored caterpillar is that of the imperial moth (Eacles imperialis), but the imperial moth caterpillar has four “horns” behind its head and the photographer saw no such horns on the pictured caterpillar.
Photographed and identified to order by: Cindy Cravens. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. Date: 2 September, 2019.
Luna Moth pupa-adult (Actias luna)
Luna moth, pupa to adult, Actias luna, subfamily Saturniinae, family Saturniidae.
□ This luna moth has just emerged from its pupa, and its wings are beginning to pump up and unfurl. It offers a nice view of the striped abdomen. To see the adult in all its glory, click here.
Photographed by: Melissa Blankenship. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Thomasville, North Carolina, United States. Date: 12 April, 2020.
Luna Moth (<i>Actias luna</i>)
Luna moth, caterpillar forming cocoon, Actias luna, subfamily Saturniinae, family Saturniidae.
□ The photographer caught this luna moth caterpillar spinning silk to form a cocoon. The next two photos show a continuation of the metamorphosis.
Photographed and identified by: Tony L. Location: central New Jersey, USA. Date: 11 September, 2017.
Tony says, “Found Luna moth caterpillar starting cocoon on porch.”
Luna Moth (<i>Actias luna</i>)
Luna moth, pupa, Actias luna, subfamily Saturniinae, family Saturniidae.
□ Once the luna moth caterpillar is encased in the cocoon, its skin splits open and a reddish-brown pupa forms. (A chrysalis is another term for a pupa.) This all occurs within the cocoon.
Photographed and identified by: Tony L. Location: Hopewell, Virginia, USA. Date: 12 September, 2017.
Tony says, “Wish I would have taken a photo when the chysallis was sweating!”
Polyphemus Moth cocoon (Anthera polyphemus)
Moth cocoon, either polyphemus Moth, Anthera polyphemus, or luna moth, Actias luna, subfamily Saturniinae, family Saturniidae.
□ The cocoon of the polyphemus moth looks much like that of the luna moth — both are large (see the photographer’s comment below), are wrapped in silk, and often have leaves wrapped in with them (although not in this photo).
Photographed by: Nancy Coman. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Temperance, Michigan, United States. Date: 24 June, 2019.
Nancy says, “It is approximately 4-5 inches long and 2-2.5 inches wide. It looks like it has a web on each end.”
Cecropia Moth caterpillar (Hyalophora cecropia)
Cecropia moth, caterpillar, Hyalophora cecropia, subfamily Saturniinae, family Saturniidae.
□ This cecropia moth is it its fifth and last instar (caterpillar stage) before it pupates. The fifth-instar caterpillar is not only very beautiful, but can also be quite large — more than 4 inches (10 cm) long. To see the adult cecropia moth, click here.
Photographed and identified by: Robert E. Carpenter. Robert has a slow-motion nature video posted here. Location: Guadalupe River, Kerrville, Texas, USA. Date: 26 May, 2017.
Robert spotted this caterpillar on an elderberry bush. He says, “Awesome beauty for such an humble creature.”
Moth cocoon (possibly Hyalophora cecropia)
Cecropia moth, cocoon, possibly cecropia moth, Hyalophora cecropia, subfamily Saturniinae, family Saturniidae.
□ This large cocoon could be that of a cecropia moth. The cecropia moth has a brown pupa, and spins the cocoon around the pupa. This moth has already emerged, but the shell of the pupa may still be inside.
Photographed by: Isolina Norris, Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: San Antonio, Texas, USA. Date: 24 June, 2021.
Isolina says, “It is about 2 inches long by 1.25 inches wide. It is hard, feels like a paint canvas.”
Cabbage tree emperor moth caterpillar (Bunaea alcinoe)
Cabbage tree emperor moth, caterpillar, Bunaea alcinoea, subfamily Saturniinae, family Saturniidae.
□ This cabbage tree emperor moth caterpillar is one of the few truly black caterpillars, and with the white pines and red/orange-red spiracles, it is certainly an attention-getter. To see the adult cabbage tree emperor moth, click here.
Photographed by: Francis Mwangi. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Not indicated, but this species is found in central to souther Africa. Date: 31 December, 2019.
Imperial Moth pupa (Eacles imperialis)
Moth pupa, possibly the imperial moth, Eacles imperialis, subfamily Ceratocampinae, family Saturniidae.
□ To see a photo of the adult imperial moth, click here. The pupa of a moth in the silkworm moth family looks very similar to the pupa of a moth in another family: the sphinx moths (Sphingidae). A major difference between the two is that a sphinx moth has a noticeable handle, while the silkworm moth does not. To see an image of a sphinx moth pupa with the handle, click here.
Photographed by: Vicki Barnes. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Independence, Missouri, USA. Date: 10 March, 2018.
Vicki says, “I found this creature yesterday in my yard in northwest Missouri. At first I thought it was some type of cocoon, but it moved freely when I picked it up, and then I noticed the tiny double prongs on one end, with a possible minuscule opening underneath.”
Io Moth caterpillar (Automeris metzli)
Io moth, caterpillar, Automeris metzli, subfamily Ceratocampinae, family Saturniidae.
□ The caterpillars of the io moth and other species in this genus (Automeris) are known as stinging caterpillars, because they are covered with spines that do indeed sting. Some people have quite a bad reaction to the caterpillars, so it is best not to handle them. To see the adult, click here (iNaturalist).
Photographed by: Denise A. Frank. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Punta Gorda Town, Belize, Central America. Date: 30 July, 2018.
Denise found this one on her porch. She says, “Know to give a nasty sting. (The prettier they are, the nastier the sting!)” .”
Hickory Horned Devil, caterpillar of a Regal Moth (Citheronia regalis)
Hickory horned devil, caterpillar of a Regal Moth, Citheronia regalis, subfamily Ceratocampinae, family Saturniidae.
□ This caterpillar has a great name: hickory horned devil. Its name comes from the grouping of red and black fleshy horn-like tubercles called scoli, and the hickory part comes from its preference for pignut hickory trees (Carya glabra). It usually remains unseen up in the trees, but wanders down to the ground to find some soft soil where it can burrow and pupate. See the photographer’s comment below. For a view of the adult, click here.
Photographed by: Molly Iorio. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Lumberville, Pennsylvania, USA. Date: 13 September, 2019.
Molly says, “Never seen anything like this bug, it was about 6 inches long.” That’s 15 cm!
Giant Silk Moth caterpillar (Arsenura armida)
Giant silk moth, caterpillars, Arsenura armida, subfamily Arsenurinae, family Saturniidae.
□ Caterpillars of the giant silk moth release a pheromone that causes them to group together like this.
Photographed by: Liliane de Deus. Identified by: Dr. Manoel Martins Dias Filho. Our thanks also to Marcelo Renan Santos for acting as liaison! Location: Atlantic Forest at Linhares, Espirito Santo, Brazil. Date: 15 November, 2016.
Marcelo says this shot was taken in a cocoa plantation.
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Limacodidae, the slug moths or cup moths

Saddleback caterpillar (Acharia stimulea)
Saddleback caterpillar, Acharia stimulea (formerly Sibene stimulea), subfamily Limacodinae, family Limacodidae.
□ The adult of the saddleback caterpillar is much more muted than the caterpillar, and has gray, brown and rust hues. To see the adult, click here.
Photographed by: S. Statham. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Andrews, North Carolina, USA. Date: August, 2015.
Saddleback caterpillar (Acharia stimulea)
Saddleback caterpillar, Acharia stimulea (formerly Sibene stimulea), subfamily Limacodinae, family Limacodidae.
□ The saddleback caterpillar is aptly named with the large and bright-green saddle on its back. The bright colors serve as a warning sign for this caterpillar. It has dozens of stinging spines on its large horns as well as other areas of its body, so the warning is for humans too.
Photographed by: Lyle Sloane. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Ashland, Kentucky, USA. Date: 28 September, 2017.
Lyle says this caterpillar was stuck to the glass of his back door “with some kind of suction.”
Spiny oak-slug moth (Euclea delphinii)
Spiny oak-slug moth, caterpillar, Euclea delphinii (formerly Sibene stimulea), subfamily Limacodinae, family Limacodidae.
□ The spiny oak-slug moth is an attractive patchwork caterpillar with spine-covered protrusions along its back and sides. The adult moth is brown with neon-green patches on its wings, as seen here (bugguide.net).
Photographed by: Laura Saaf. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Houghton Lake, Michigan, USA. Date: 19 August, 2020.
Monkey Slug caterpillar (Phobetron pithecium)
Monkey slug, caterpillar, Phobetron pithecium,, family Limacodidae.
□ This unusual-looking monkey slug caterpillar will eventually become a hag moth, which is a pretty, brown, patterned moth with a white poof of fuzz on its middle leg.
Photographed by: Partha Bagchi. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Partha took this photo on his deck. Location: Centreville, near Wilmington, Delaware, USA. Date: 5 September, 2016.
Monkey Slug caterpillar (Phobetron pithecium)
Monkey slug caterpillar, Phobetron pithecium,, family Limacodidae.
□ The monkey slug’s body has six long curling projections or “arms.” It looks like it is covered in soft hair, but some people find that the hairs sting.
Photographed by: Cliff Rohrabacher. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Hunterdon County, New Jersey, USA. Date: late August, 2018.
Cliff found it climbing a truck tire. He described it as having locomotion like a slug, a bright-yellow underbody, grub-like mandibles, and brown and gray camoflauge that looked like tree bark.
Crowned Slug Caterpillar (Isa textula)
Crowned slug, caterpillar, Isa textula, family Limacodidae.
□ The crowned slug is a beautiful lime-green caterpillar with intricate, frilly projections all around its body. Those projections are stinging spines, however, so it is best to observe this caterpillar by watching and not by touching! To see what it looks like as an adult, click here.
Photographed by: Wayne Johnson. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Greenfield, New Hampshire, USA. Date: 2 September, 2019.
Wayne says, “We saw this tonight on our car.... We have never seen anything like it!”
Crowned Slug Caterpillar (Isa textula)
Crowned slug, caterpillar, Isa textula, family Limacodidae.
□ The head of this crowned slug caterpillar is retractable and is located beneath the two small dark-outlined “horns” (not visible in this photo). The caterpillar moves with kind of a rolling gait (a nice video of it is available here.) The adult is called either a crowned slug moth or a skiff moth.
Photographed by: Nicole Johnson. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: northern Georgia, USA. Date: 2 August, 2019.
Nicole says, “Glad I didn’t touch — I just read it stings! ;-)”
Slug caterpillar (Tortricidia)
Slug caterpillar moth in the genus Tortricidia, family Limacodidae.
□ This slug caterpillar is likely one of three species: the red-crossed button slug moth (Tortricidia pallid), the early button slug moth (Tortricidia testacea), or the abbreviated button slug moth (Tortricidia flexuosa).
Photographed by: Julie Baldwin. Identified by: entomologist Duke Elsner. Thank you, Dr. Elsner! Location: near Lansing, Michigan, USA. Date: 26 July, 2017.
Julie found this half-inch-long caterpillar at a campground. Dr. Elsner says, “Cool find.”
Slug caterpillar (Cheromettia spp.)
Slug caterpillar in the genus Cheromettia, family Limacodidae.
□ From the top and side, this slug caterpillar looks much like an oval egg, but the bottom view (lower right photo) reveals it as a caterpillar. Adults are hairy, brown to reddish moths that often sit with their abdomens held curled upward.
Photographed and identified as a slug caterpillar by: Surabhika Panda. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Gunupur, Odisha, India. Date: 25 August, 2020.
Surabhika found this caterpillar on a banana plant.
Stinging Nettle caterpillar (Limacodidae)
Stinging nettle caterpillar, family Limacodidae.
Stinging nettle is the common name given to caterpillars in the Limacodidae family found in India. The exact species is unknown.
Photographed and identified to order by: Shefali Chaudhari. Identified to family by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Malotha,dist-Tapi, Gujarat, India. Date: 10 December, 2018.

Notodontidae, the prominent moths

Pine Processionary caterpillars (Thaumetopoea pityocampa)
Pine processionary caterpillars, Thaumetopoea pityocampa, subfamily Thaumetopoeinae, family Notodontidae (the prominent moths).
Pine processionary caterpillars have the very unusual behavior shown in this photo: They travel head-to-tail in a procession to get to their host trees and to pupation sites (see the photographer’s comment below). The caterpillars are covered with urticating (stinging) hairs, which protects them from potential predators. To find out more and to take a look at the adult, click here.
Photographed by: Yanni Petropoulos. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: southwesternGreece. Date: February 2021.
Yanni watched hundreds in a row, and says “Usually, those come down from the pine trees later when it is warmer, but that day it was a warm February day.”
White-Blotched Heterocampa (Heterocampa umbrata)
White-blotched heterocampa, caterpillar, Heterocampa umbrata, subfamily Heterocampinae, family Notodontidae (the prominent moths).
□ The hot-pink color of the white-blotched heterocampa fades as it grows, and it eventually metamorphoses into a patterned gray, ivory and brownish moth.
Photographed by: Daiana Rodriguez. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Prince Frederick, Maryland, USA. Date: September 2016.
Puss moth caterpillar (Cerura vinula)
Puss moth, caterpillar, Cerura vinula, subfamily Notodontinae, family Notodontidae (the prominent moths).
□ The puss moth caterpillar turns the purplish color (shown here) right before it transforms from a caterpillar to a pupa. Earlier in its development, the sides of the caterpillar are lime green. To see the lovely swirl-marked adult of this species, click here.
Photographed by: Joanne Leach. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Salford, England, UK. Date: 9 July, 2018.
Joanne found this caterpillar “on a path near the river.”
Buff-Tip Moth, caterpillars, (Phalera bucephala)
Buff-tip moth, caterpillars, Phalera bucephala, subfamily Phalerinae, family Notodontidae.
Buff-tip caterpillars live in groups, as seen here, and will eat the leaves of many different trees, especially birch trees, sometimes leaving whole branches bare. The adults blend into birch branches. To see the adult, eggs and different stages of the caterpillar, click here.
Photographed and identified to order by: Spencer Christian. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Worthing, England, UK. Date: 16 July, 2021.
Spencer says, “I found these caterpillars huddled together under the leaf of a Ribes plant”.
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Tineidae, the fungus moths or tineid moths

Plaster Bagworm (Phereoeca spp.)
Household casebearer, also known as a plaster bagworm, either Phereoeca uterella or Phereoeca allutella, subfamily Tineinae, family Tineidae (the fungus moths or tineid moths).
□ The larva of the household casebearer lives within this case or “bag,” which it constructs using its silk along with other materials from its surroundings. When the larva moves, it sticks its head and front legs out of the case, grabs the surface, and then drags the case along in a kind of scooting motion.
Photographed by: Boc Villamor. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. Date: 28 January, 2017.
In his wonderful (and fun!) description, Boc says, “I’m not actually sure if this is an insect or an alien creature from Saturn. I often see these on the upper part of walls in my house and sometimes on the ceiling (near a wall) and for the longest time ... I thought these were lizard poop. To my surprise this morning, I saw one inching its way up!”
Casebearer (Phereoeca uterella)
Household casebearer, caterpillar, in the genus Phereoeca, likely Phereoeca uterella, subfamily Tineinae, family Tineidae (the fungus moths or tineid moths).
□ The adult household casebearer is a small beige moth with dark bars on its forewings. To learn more about this species and see a photo of the adult, click here.
Photographed by: Carole Parrish. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Cape Coral, Florida, USA. Date: 19 April, 2020.
Carole says, “It’s a relief that this is not something sinister that burrows in your skin while you are sleeping.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “Sorry, no horror-story material here! ;-)”
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Cossidae, the carpenter and leopard moths

Goat Moth or Carpenter Moth (Cossus cossus)
Carpenter moth, also known as a goat moth, caterpillar, Cossus cossus, family Cossidae.
□ This carpenter moth caterpillar is a big one — if it were straightened out, it would be about 9 cm (nearly 4 inches) long. Other common names for this species include wood borer, willow borer and timber borer, which refer to the caterpillar’s penchant for boring into all sorts of deciduous trees. The caterpillar can live up to five years before finally becoming an adult.
□ The adult is also large with a wingspan of nearly 10 cm (photo of the adult here). Once it becomes an adult, the moth only has a few days left: just enough time for mating and laying eggs.
Photographed and identified by: Vanhoutte Olivier. Location: Belgium near Ghent. Date: 3 March, 2020.
Vanhoutte found this big caterpillar in the soil.
Carpenterworm Moth (Prionoxystus robiniae)
Carpenterworm moth, exuvia, Prionoxystus robiniae, family Cossidae.
□ This is the shed casing (called an exuvia) from the pupa of a carpenterworm moth. These pupa can be 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) long. The adult moth is quite large with a body that is more than an inch long, and a wingspan that can reach 3 inches wide (7.5 cm). The adult (photo here) has a web-like, gray to green pattern on its wings.
Photographed by: Mike Hohenshell. Submitted by: Cara Brimmer. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Williamsburg, Iowa, USA. Date: 13 July, 2019.
Bryan says, “Really excited this morning, came across this large caterpillar (c.3 inches long).” That’s about 7.6 cm!
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Lasiocampidae, the tent caterpillars, lappet moths, eggars, and snout moths

Drinker Caterpillar Moth (Euthrix potatoria)
Drinker caterpillar, Euthrix potatoria, family Lasiocampidae.
□ This drinker has some amazing eyes! The “drinker” part of its name comes from its affinity for sipping little dewdrops. As an adult, it is a beige moth with thin brown stripes on its wings.
Photographed and identified by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Location: Ivybridge, South Hams, South Devon, England, UK. Date: 21 June, 2019.
Bryan says, “Really excited this morning, came across this large caterpillar (c.3 inches long).” That’s about 7.6 cm!
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Psychidae, the bagworm moths

Bagworm moth (family Psychidae)
Bagworm moth caterpillar, family Psychidae.
□ In this species of bagworm moth, the caterpillars construct little structures for themselves out of silk and whatever little items they can find in the environment. These tiny constructed cones look like they are made out of bits of lichen. Despite the structure they are carrying, the caterpillars can move around (see the photographer’s comment below).
Photographed by: Juraj Bajgar. Submitted by: Clara Bajgar. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico. Date: 27 February, 2019.
Clara says, “They are between 3 to 18 mm long, conical, not shiny, trying to blend into a surface of palm trees. Each cone has a hole on the end. They move, and if touched they become motionless. We have never seen anything like these.”
Bagworm moth (family Psychidae)
Possible bagworm moth, pupa transformation, family Psychidae.
Bagworm caterpillars and adult females make sacs or bags, and drag their bags with them. The bags hide them and help protect them from predators. When they are ready to form a cocoon, the sac covers with silk and hardens (as seen in the next photo).
Photographed by: Jack Rotoli. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Florida Keys, Florida, USA. Date: 24 July, 2017.
Jack says, “It’s about an inch long... There was movement.”
Bagworm moth (family Psychidae)
Possible bagworm moth, cocoon, family Psychidae.
□ This is what the bagworm in the previous photo looked like just a day later.
Photographed by: Jack Rotoli. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Florida Keys, Florida, USA. Date: 25 July, 2017.
Jack says, “Now it’s in a rock-hard cocoon.”
Bagworm moth (family Psychidae)
Bagworm moth caterpillar, family Psychidae.
□ These two photos show the bagworm peeking out from its bag. See the comments below to see the photographer’s introduction to this insect.
Photographed by: Marv Goldberg. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: near Tamarac, Florida, USA. Date: 11 February, 2021.
Marv says, “I was first aware of it hanging on my door frame. I figured it was some kind of trash that had stuck there. A few minutes later, it had moved about 2 feet.”
Evergreen bagworm moth (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis)
Evergreen bagworm moth, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis, subfamily Oiketicinae, family Psychidae.
□ The evergreen bagworm caterpillar spins silk around bark, leaves and needles to make the “bag,” which provides a nice protective home. The caterpillar pokes its head and front legs out of the bag (as shown here) and drags it around. In late summer, the caterpillar will climb into a tree and hang the bags — again using silk — from twigs. It then pupates and becomes an adult moth. The male moth has wings, but the adult female never gets wings. Instead, she still remains in the bag and lays her eggs there.
Photographed by: Maureen King. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Long Island, New York, USA. Date: 24 August, 2017.
Maureen says, “Never saw this type of bug here on Long Island.”
Hairy Sweep (Canephora hirsuta)
Hairy sweep, caterpillar, Canephora hirsuta, subfamily Oiketicinae, family Psychidae.
□ The hairy sweep caterpillar makes this shelter for itself by spinning silk around bits of leaves, and remains inside until it is ready to pupate and become an adult.
Photographed by: Yanni Petropoulos. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: mainland of southwestern Greece. Date: 30 April, 2020.
Bagworm moth (family Psychidae)
Bagworm moth caterpillar, family Psychidae.
□ This family (Psychidae) include about a thousand species of bagworm species. In all of them, the larvae make and live inside bags made of bits of leaves, twigs or other materials, spun together with silk. The bags are sometimes attached to the walls of houses, as seen here.
Photographed and identified by: Carlos Castoro. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Date: 17 November, 2019.
Bagworm, Psychidae
Bagworm, family Psychidae.
□ The photographer spotted this bagworm stuck to an iron railing. One photo shows the stick-and-silk bag, and the other shows the caterpillar’s head poking out. See the photographer’s description below.
Photographed and identified by: Sri Charan. Location: Telangana, India. Date: 2 October, 2020.
Sri says, “The bag with sticks is really wonderful. It helps protect the caterpillar from wind, water and sun. The bag, on which sticks are attached is like leather in texture.”

Sphingidae, the hawk moths

Oleander Hawk Moth (Daphnis nerii)
Oleander hawk moth, Daphnis nerii, subfamily Macroglossinae, family Sphingidae.
□ The oleander hawk moth caterpillar goes through several stages before it pupates. In this stage, it is dark with white speckles along the sides, and orange at either end. It retains the small rear extension (upper left), known as a horn, from one stage to another.
Photographed and identified as a moth caterpillar by: Ahana. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Date: 3 November, 2020.
Ahana found this in the garden.
Hawk Moth caterpillar, probably Oleander Hawk Moth (Daphnis nerii)
Hawk moth, caterpillar, probably oleander hawk moth, Daphnis nerii, subfamily Macroglossinae, family Sphingidae.
□ Another stage of the oleander hawk moth’s life as a caterpillar is green with a broad, white side stripe flanked by white speckles, and a small curved extension (called a horn), which is visible at lower left in this photo. The previous photo shows a much different-looking stage.
Photographed by: Alain Ritchie C. Quisumbing. Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Date: 23 March, 2016.
Impatiens Hawk Moth caterpillar (Theretra oldenlandiae)
Impatiens hawk moth caterpillar, Theretra oldenlandiae, subfamily Macroglossinae, family Sphingidae.
□ The caterpillar of this impatiens hawk moth is sometimes called a taro hornworm. This photo shows black form of the caterpillar (there is also a green form), and it is the last stage of the caterpillar before it pupates. This last stage is also when the caterpillar is at its most colorful: dark gray to black with cream to yellow spots and bands, two eyespots on each side followed by five more red spots, and finally the white-tipped horn. To see all the caterpillar stages and the adult of this species, click here.
Photographed and identified to order by: Sultan Mamud. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: India. Date: 15 August, 2020.
White-Lined Sphinx Moth caterpillar (Hyles lineata)
White-Lined Sphinx Moth caterpillar, Hyles lineata, subfamily Macroglossinae, family Sphingidae.
□ The caterpillar of this white-lined sphinx moth goes through a number of color/pattern changes as it grows, and this stage is quite pretty with the yellow stripes and orange horn. To see other caterpillar stages and the adult, click here and scan through the photos.
Photographed by: Amy Lance. Submitted by: Kathy Marx and Nick Marx. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Parker, Arizona, USA. Date: 15 March, 2019.
Kathy says, “Beautiful, huh?”
Spurge Hawk Moth caterpillar (Hyles euphorbiae)
Spurge hawk moth, also known as a leafy spurge hawk moth, caterpillar, Hyles euphorbiae, subfamily Macroglossinae, family Sphingidae.
□ This brightly colored spurge hawk moth caterpillar sports rows of paired large white spots on each side of its body, an assortment of black patches filled with white speckles, and a single black-tipped red horn on its rear end. It is often found on or near leafy spurge, a plant with yellowish-green flowers that is an invasive species in much the United States, where this photo was taken.
Photographed by: Michelle Dodge Meitler. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Elk Park, Gaylord, Michigan, USA. Date: 18 July, 2019.
Spurge Hawk Moth caterpillar (Hyles euphorbiae)
Spurge hawk moth, also known as a leafy spurge hawk moth, caterpillar, Hyles euphorbiae, subfamily Macroglossinae, family Sphingidae.
□ This spurge hawk moth caterpillar will become a mainly brown adult moth that is able to hover, and is often mistaken for a hummingbird. To see the adult, click here.
Photographed and identified by: Laura Schneider. Location: Govenor Thompson State Park near the Peshtigo River, Marinette County, Wisconsin, USA. Date: 22 August, 2020.
Laura says, “My friend, David, and I were hiking when we saw this beauty.... I found a similar looking Caterpillar on your site, so am thinking this might be a spurge hawk moth caterpillar.” Excellent ID, Laura!
Abbott's Sphinx Moth caterpillar (Specodina abbottii)
Abbott’s sphinx moth caterpillar Specodina abbottii, subfamily Macroglossinae, family Sphingidae.
□ The caterpillar of the Abbott’s sphinx moth has a black eye spot on its rear end, and that eye spot protrudes so it looks very much like a real eye. Its bright-green color and brown pattern, shown in side and top views (the side view is in the shade), make this quite a vivid caterpillar.
□ To see the adult, click here.
Photographed by: Arnold Lundwall. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: central Massachusetts, USA. Date: 18 July, 2019.
Arnold says, “Found this plump fellow on our grape vines today.”
Snowberry Clearwing Moth caterpillar (Hemaris diffinis)
Snowberry clearwing moth caterpillar, Hemaris diffinis, subfamily Macroglossinae, family Sphingidae.
□ The caterpillar of the snowberry clearwing moth may be very dark (as shown here), green or reddish, depending on the stage. As an adult, it is yellow and black, and is sometimes confused with a bumblebee. To see the adult and other stages of the caterpillar, click here.
Photographed and identified by: Kelly McKinne (@gonzonaturalist). Location: Perrysburg, Ohio, USA. Date: 16 October, 2012.
Common Striped Hawk Moth caterpillar (Hyles livornica)
Common striped hawk moth, caterpillar, Hyles livornica, subfamily Macroglossinae, family Sphingidae.
□ This caterpillar of the common striped hawk moth has large, speckled eyespots. Depending on the lighting, the body may look more olive than tan (as seen in these two images of the same caterpillar). To see the adult, pupa, and various stages of the caterpillar, click here.
Photographed and identified to order by: Alta le Roux. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Pretoria, South Africa. Date: 4 February, 2020.
Alta says, “The hawk moths seem to alternate year to year depending on rain and temperature. We have had a very hot and dry summer so far. First time I’ve spotted this one.”
Tersa Sphinx Moth caterpillar (Xylophanes tersa)
Tersa sphinx moth, caterpillar, Xylophanes tersa, subfamily Macroglossinae, family Sphingidae.
□ The caterpillar of the tersa sphinx moth may be either in green or brown, but in either case have one large eyespot, followed by six more (the sixth is hidden from view in this photo), and ending with a thin black tail horn (just visible upper right). To see the adult, click here.
Photographed and identified to order by: Donna Sinicrope. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: South Pasadena, Florida, USA. Date: 26 December, 2019.
Donna found this caterpillar on her penta plants (sometimes called Egyptian starcluster), which just so happens to be one of the favorite foods of this species.
Vine Hawk Moth caterpillar (Hippotion celerio)
Vine hawk moth, caterpillar, Hippotion celerio, subfamily Macroglossinae, family Sphingidae.
□ The vine hawk moth caterpillar has a pair of large green eyespots and a dark horn. As an adult, it is mainly brown and beige with pink accents. It is also known as a silver-striped hawk moth.
Photographed by: Sumit Kumar. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: India. Date: 26 August, 2020.
Privet Hawk Moth caterpillar (Sphinx ligustri)
Privet hawk moth, caterpillar, Sphinx ligustri, subfamily Sphinginae, family Sphingidae.
□ The caterpillar of the privet hawk moth has a black collar. The tobacco hornworm and tomato hornworm lack the black collar. To see the adult privet hawk-moth, click here.
Photographed by: Patricia Waterman. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Whitstable, Kent, UK. Date: 21 August, 2018.
Patricia reports it was about 100 cm (4 inches) long and 2.5 cm (1 inch) around. She found it in a forsythia bush.
African Death's Head Hawk Moth caterpillar (Acherontia atropos)
African death’s head hawk moth, caterpillar, Acherontia atropos, subfamily Sphinginae, family Sphingidae.
□ Once this caterpillar of the African death’s head hawk moth becomes a pupa, it will turn a deep red color, then changing to black, and finally the adult moth will emerge.
Photographed and identified by: Photographed by: Umeh Paul Nzube. Location: Ibeju Lekki, Lagos State, Nigeria. Date: 23 July, 2020.
Greater Death's Head Hawk Moth caterpillar (Acherontia lachesis)
Greater death’s head hawk moth, also known as a bee robber, caterpillar, Acherontia lachesis, subfamily Sphinginae, family Sphingidae.
□ The greater death’s head hawk moth caterpillar may be yellow with purple markings, or green with white markings (as shown in the next photo).
Photographed by: Spoorthi Sv. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Shivamogga (Shimoga), Karnataka state, southwest India. Date: 7 March, 2018.
Greater Death's Head Hawk Moth caterpillar (Acherontia lachesis)
Greater death’s head hawk moth, also known as a bee robber, caterpillar, Acherontia lachesis, subfamily Sphinginae, family Sphingidae.
□ This photo of the greater death’s head hawk moth provides a nice view of its “tail” or horn. The similar looking tomato hornworm caterpillar and tobacco hornworm caterpillar both have much smoother horns, as shown elsewhere on this page.
Photographed by: K J Westman. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Pamunugama, Sri Lanka. Date: 14 March, 2018.
African Death's Head Hawk Moth caterpillar (Acherontia atropos)
African death’s head hawk moth, caterpillar, Acherontia atropos, subfamily Sphinginae, family Sphingidae.
□ The African death’s head hawk moth gets its common name because of the pattern in the adult: The top of its thorax, looks rather like a human skull. It is also sometimes known as a bee robber, because the adult moth will infiltrate a honey bee hive to steal the honey. It is able to escape the hive unharmed because it emits off a honey bee scent, which fools the bees into thinking the bee robber is one of their own.
Photographed and identified by: Photographed and identified by: Alta le Roux. Location: Pretoria, South Africa. Date: 4 February, 2020.
Alta described this caterpillar as a “more regular visitor” to the yard.
Tomato Hornworm caterpillar (Manduca quinquemaculata)
Hornworm caterpillar, likely tomato hornworm, Manduca quinquemaculata, subfamily Sphinginae, family Sphingidae.
□ A typical tomato hornworm caterpillar has white stripes without black outlining, along with blue to black coloration on its “horn”. This individual has the former characterstic, but not the latter.
Photographed by: Carlo Castoro. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Date: 7 January, 2018.
Tobacco Hornworm caterpillar, Manduca sexta
Tobacco hornworm caterpillar, Manduca sexta, subfamily Sphinginae, family Sphingidae.
□ The tomato hornworm caterpillar and the tobacco Hornworm caterpillar look very similar. One way to tell them apart is that the tomato hornworm’s “horn” is blue to black, and the tobacco hornworm’s “horn” is red (as shown here).
Photographed and identified by: Randi Wilcoxen. Location: Grand Traverse County, Michigan, USA. Date: 8 September, 2013.
Tobacco Hornworm caterpillar (Manduca sexta)
Tobacco hornworm caterpillar, Manduca sexta, subfamily Sphinginae, family Sphingidae.
□ Another way to tell the tomato hornworm caterpillar and the tobacco hornworm caterpillar apart is that the tobacco hornworm has a black outline on its white stripes, and the tomato hornworm does not.
Photographed by: Jennifer Wiggins. Location: Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Date: 12 July, 2017.
Tobacco Hornworm caterpillar (Manduca sexta)
Tobacco hornworm, caterpillar covered with braconid wasp cocoons, Manduca sexta, subfamily Sphinginae, family Sphingidae.
Tobacco hornworms and other hornworms are often infested with braconid wasps. The adult female wasp lays her eggs just under the skin of the tobacco hornworm caterpillar. The eggs hatch into larvae, which eat the innards of the caterpillar. The caterpillar remains alive, but it begins to weaken as the larvae devour more and more of its internal tissues. Once large enough, the larvae emerge to form the white cocoons seen here. The hornworn typically dies soon after the adult wasps break out of the cocoons.
Photographed and identified as a hornworm by: Jeff Goff. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: near Munising, Michigan, USA. Date: 8 August, 2016.
Jeff took this photo of the still-living hornworm in a coneflower meadow.
Hawk moth caterpillar (Smerinthus spp.)
Hawk moth, caterpillar, in the genus Smerinthus, possibly Smerinthus cerisyi or Smerinthus ophthalmica, subfamily Smerinthinae, family Sphingidae.
□ As adults, the hawk moths in both the species Smerinthus ophthalmica and Smerinthus cerisyi have brown and cream wings with a pattern that would blend in well with tree bark. To see the adults, click here and here.
Photographed and identified by: Marc Stenberg. Location: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Date: 3 December, 2020.
Sphinx Moth caterpillar (Sphingidae)
Sphinx Moth, caterpillar, family Sphingidae.
□ We have been unable to identify this caterpillar to species. If you know what it is, please let us know!
Submitted by: Sam George. Photographed by: Linda Guenard Lyell. Identified to family by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Arkansas, USA. Date: 3 June, 2019.

Erebidae, the erebid moths

Milkweed Tussock Moth
Milkweed tussock moth, caterpillar, Euchaetes egle, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ The adult milkweed tussock moth has an orange abdomen with a row of small black spots down the middle, but the abdomen is usually hidden beneath its plain light-gray wings. To see the adult, click here (bugguide.net). Photographed and identified by: Randi Wilcoxen. Location: Grand Traverse County, Michigan, USA. Date: 8 September, 2013.
Milkweed Tussock Moth
Milkweed tussock moth, caterpillar, Euchaetes egle, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ The milkweed tussock moth caterpillar grows quickly when dining on their namesake milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.). They become increasingly colorful — and more hairy — as they go through their growth stages, or molts. Eventually they are brightly colored orange, black and white caterpillars, as seen here, and because of this color, they are sometimes called milkweed tiger moths.
Photographed and identified by: Victor Leverenz. Location: Lake Orion, Michigan, USA. Date: 27 August, 2018.
Milkweed Tussock Moth
Milkweed tussock moth, caterpillar, Euchaetes egle, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
Milkweed tussock moth caterpillars eat milkweed to keep birds from eating them. Milkweed has a sticky white sap that contains chemicals, including a type called cardiac glycosides. When caterpillars fill up on milkweed, they taste so bad that birds leave them alone. And their orange color helps to remind birds they should find their meal elsewhere.
Photographed and identified by: the Gray Girls. Submitted by: Niah Perkins (the head Gray!). Great job on the identification, Gray Girls! Location: Hebbronville, Texas, USA. Date: 12 October, 2019.

What does the Erebidae family name mean?
□ The name Erebidae comes from Greek mythology. In Greek mythology, Erebus was one of the first five beings in existence and was the personification of deep darkness. Presumably, Erebidae carries the name because moths are primarily nocturnal.
Salt Marsh Moth caterpillar (Estigmene acrea)
Salt marsh moth, caterpillar, Estigmene acrea, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ The caterpillar of the salt marsh moth is quite variable. This individual has a white and light greenish-yellow body with tufts of silver hair.
Photographed by: Jennifer Lamb. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Rosharon, Texas, USA. Date: 8 June, 2018.
Jennifer says, “Found this caterpillar on my morning glory.” (Morning glories are climbing plants with petunia-like flowers.)
Woolly Bear (Pyrrharctia isabella)
Woolly bear, also known as banded woolly bear, caterpillar of the Isabella tiger moth Pyrrharctia isabella, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ Although lore suggests that the amount of of orange banding on the woolly bear can predict how warm the winter will be (more orange = warmer winter), it is actually determined by genetics and by the temperature when the caterpillar hatches from the egg.
□ To see the adult Isabella tiger moth, click here (Bugguide.net). Photographed and identified to order by: Amanda Barker. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Date: mid-August, 2020.
Yellow Woolly Bear (Spilosoma virginica)
Yellow woolly bear, the caterpillar of the Virginia tiger moth Spilosoma virginica, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ This one is a little worse for the wear — usually yellow woolly bears are quite fluffy-looking.
Photographed and identified by: Randi Wilcoxen. Location: Grand Traverse County, Michigan, USA. Date: 8 September, 2013.
Yellow Woolly Bear (Spilosoma virginica)
Yellow woolly bear, the caterpillar of the Virginia tiger moth Spilosoma virginica, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ The photographer described this caterpillar of a Virginian tiger moth as a “stinging caterpillar.” Many caterpillars have hollow hairs (called urticating hairs) equipped with poison sacs, and can deliver a painful stinging sensation. The yellow woolly bear does not have urticating hairs, but some people with especially sensitive skin still sometimes have a reaction known as dermatitis. More information about urticating hairs is available here.
Photographed and identified to family by: H. C. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Dallas, Texas, USA. Date: 25 June, 2020.
Banded Tussock Moth (Halysidota tessellaris)
Banded tussock moth, Halysidota tessellaris, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ The banded tussock moth caterpillar may be yellow as shown here, or gray as shown in the next photo.
Photographed and identified by: Partha Bagchi. Location: Centreville, near Wilmington, Delaware, USA. Date: 11 September, 2016.
Partha took this photo on his deck.
Banded Tussock Moth (Halysidota tessellaris)
Banded tussock moth, caterpillar, Halysidota tessellaris, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□The banded tussock moth is also sometimes called a Pale Tiger Moth, which refers to the patterning on the wings of the adult. To see the adult, click here (Bugguide.net). Photographed and identified by: Randi Wilcoxen. Location: Grand Traverse County, Michigan, USA. Date: 8 September, 2013.
Banded Tussock Moth (Halysidota tessellaris)
Banded tussock moth, caterpillar, Halysidota tessellaris, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ This beautiful photo of a banded tussock moth caterpillar shows the pretty sprays of hairs that burst from the body. The color of this caterpillar can vary from yellow (shown here) to orange to gray.
□ It is sometimes called a Pale Tiger Moth or Tessellated Halisidota. To see the adult Banded Tussock Moth,
Photographed by: Lisa Hetchler. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Deer Run Golf Club Lowell, Michigan, USA. Date: 21 September, 2019.
Lisa spotted this caterpillar on her golf cart. Hopefully it was good luck!
Sycamore tussock moth (Halysidota harrisii)
Sycamore tussock moth, caterpillar, Halysidota harrisii, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ The adult sycamore tussock moth is cream-colored with tan markings on its wings and two, thin, green-blue stripes running down its thorax. To see the adult, click here (Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health).
Photographed by: Dave Delman. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: New York, USA. Date: 23 July, 2017.
Ornate Bella Moth Caterpillar (Utetheisa ornatrix)
Ornate bella moth, caterpillar, Utetheisa ornatrix, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ With the series of black-and-white markings on its otherwise orangish body, the caterpillar of the ornate bella moth stands out on its typical host plants, which include rattlepods, rattlebox and harebells in the genus Crotalaria. These plants contain a compound (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) that makes the caterpillars and adults poisonous to potential predators.
□ To see the adult and learn more about these moths, click here (University of Florida Featured Creatures).
Photographed and identified by: Joshua Mallory. Great job with the ID, Joshua! Location: Lehigh Acres, Florida, USA. Date: 20 January, 2020.
Joshua found this caterpillar on Avon Park rattlebox, also known as Avon Park harebells (Crotalaria avonensis.
 Black-winged Dahana (Dahana atripennis)
Black-winged dahana, caterpillar, Dahana atripennis, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ One of the features of this black-winged dahana caterpillar is its face: bit orange eyes and an inverted white “Y” outlined in black. It also has two bright white stripes down its back, numerous light-gray tufts along its body, and a few black tufts near its head.
□ As an adult, this is a beautiful diurnal (daytime-active) species. To see the adult, click here (bugguide.net).
Photographed and identified to order by: Selcuk Mumcu. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Tampa, Florida, USA. Date: 6 April, 2020.
Edwards Wasp Moth cocoon (Lymire edwardsii)
Edwards wasp moth, cocoon, Lymire edwardsii, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ The Edwards wasp moth makes a cocoon that encases the pupa, and it looks like a wad of hair clippings.
□ This caterpillar is sometimes called a rubber tree caterpillar because it eats and is a pest of rubber trees. To see the adult, click here.
Photographed by: Gretchen Mendez. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Hollywood, Florida, USA. Date: 10 July, 2021.
Gretchen found this cocoon on a ficus, which the caterpillar also eats, but said they were “definitely not putting a dent in any of my ficus trees.”
Tiger Moth (Lophocampa roseata)
Tiger moth, caterpillar, Lophocampa roseata, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ This tiger moth caterpillar is beautiful with its black, white and tiny yellow tufts of hair. The adult is also quite attractive with a reddish-orange pattern: click here to see it (bugguide.net).
□ This moth has a small range, living only in the Pacific Northwest from western Oregon to southwestern British Columbia.
Photographed and identified to order by: Marc Stenberg. Location: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Date: 3 December, 2020.
Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia)
Giant leopard moth, caterpillar and pupa, Hypercompe scribonia, subfamily Arctiinae, family Erebidae.
□ This photo shows both the caterpillar and pupal stage of a giant leopard moth. The smoother and large black part is the pupa (also called a chrysalis), which is covered with light silk webbing (the cocoon). The hairy part at the left is left over from the hairy caterpillar — it sheds its exoskeleton (the skin) before it transforms into a pupa, and later transforms into the adult moth, as seen here.
Photographed by: Sandi Emsley. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Stafford, Virginia, USA. Date: 25 June, 2021.
Sandi says, “It was in a slide shoe. It’s about 2 inches long surrounded by webbing.”
Tussock Moth Caterpillar (possibly Dasychira meridionalis)
Tussock moth, caterpillar, possibly southern tussock moth, Dasychira meridionalis, subfamily Lymantriinae, family Erebidae.
□ The southern tussock moth caterpillar spins heay duty silk for its cocoon, which can make them a bit difficult to remove from the side of a house. Usually, however, they make their cocoons on leaves. Note: In some classification systems, the subfamily Lymantriinae listed as its own family: Lymantriidae.
Photographed by: Randy Jenkins. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Houston area, Texas, United States. Date: 13 June, 2017.
Yellow Hairy Caterpillar (Psalis pennatula)
Yellow hairy caterpillar, Psalis pennatula, subfamily Lymantriinae, family Erebidae.
□ If you look carefully, you’ll see four yellow tufts on the front half of the aptly named yellow hairy caterpillar (lower left). Note: In some classification systems, the subfamily Lymantriinae listed as its own family: Lymantriidae.
Photographed by: Surani Pratik. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: India. Date: 13 February, 2017.
Surani says this was in the sugarcane crop (and it is indeed a pest of sugarcane).
Gypsy Moth Caterpillar (Lymantria dispar)
Gypsy moth, caterpillar, Lymantria dispar, subfamily Lymantriinae, family Erebidae.
□ The backs of gypsy moth caterpillars are lined with parallel rows of spots: those nearest the head are blue, and the remainder are red. The color of spots is distinctive and helps set them apart from the somewhat similar-looking eastern tent caterpillars, which have parallel rows of all-blue spots. For more information about this species, which is invasive in North America, click here.
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Gaylord, Michigan, USA. Date: 26 June, 2019.
Gypsy Moth Caterpillar (Lymantria dispar)
Gypsy moth, caterpillar, Lymantria dispar, subfamily Lymantriinae, family Erebidae.
□ The red and blue spots of this gypsy moth caterpillar are helpful identifiers. Note: In some classification systems, the subfamily Lymantriinae listed as its own family: Lymantriidae.
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Gaylord, Michigan, USA. Date: 30 June, 2020.
Western Tussock Moth (Orgyia vetusta)
Western tussock moth, Orgyia vetusta, subfamily Lymantriinae, family Erebidae.
□ A good identifying feature of many tussock moths, including this western tussock moth, is the row of tufts on its back (this one has four). The western tussock moth also has long, black “lashes” at the head and rear. The adult female of this species is wingless and looks more like a fuzzball than a moth. To see the adult male and female, click here.
Photographed by: Nora Schwab. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Fair Oaks, California, USA. Date: 26 May, 2020.
Nora says, “This morning I found an interesting caterpillar on the underside of a waterlily leaf pad.... I think it’s quite lovely!” KnowYourInsects.org says, “We agree!”
Fir Tussock Moth (Orgyia detrita)
Fir tussock moth, also known as a live oak tussock moth, Orgyia detrita, subfamily Pentatominae, family Pentatomidae.
□ Identifying features of the fir tussock moth caterpillar are its red head, the row of light gray tufts on its back, and the pattern of skull-like black spots (see inset photo) on the back half of its abdomen. To see the adult, click here (bugguide.net).
□ Although called fir tussock moths, the caterpillars actually only eat the leaves of oak and bald cypress trees.
Photographed by: Dan Davis. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Humble, Texas, USA. Date: 25 April, 2021.
White-Marked Tussock Moth (Orgyia leucostigma)
White-marked tussock moth, caterpillar, Orgyia leucostigma, subfamily Lymantriinae, family Erebidae.
□ The white-marked tussock moth caterpillar has a red head and a row of four white to cream-colored tufts of hair on its back. As an adult this moth is a mottled brown color often with two small white markings on the rear of its forewings. To see the adult, click here (bugguide.net).
Spotted by: Emmy and Josie. Photographed by: John Hayes. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA. Date: 19 June, 2019.
Rusty Tussock Moth (Orgyia antiqua)
Rusty tussock moth, also known as a vapourer in Europe, caterpillar, Orgyia antiqua, subfamily Lymantriinae, family Erebidae.
□ The rusty tussock moth is native to Europe, where it is called a vapourer, but has spread into North America (where this photo was taken). The caterpillar is a gray-blue color with small red-orange spots, four large tufts of hair on its back, and several smaller hair tufts along its sides. As adults, only the male is capable of flight. The female has tiny wings that do not function.
Photographed and identified to order by: Darlene Peterson. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Westlock, Alberta, Canada. Date: 24 June, 2019.
Rusty tussock moth or vapourer, cocoon and eggs, (Orgyia antiqua)
Rusty tussock moth, also known as a vapourer, cocoon and eggs, Orgyia antiqua, subfamily Lymantriinae, family Erebidae.
□ The female rusty tussock moth (called a vapourer in Europe) is flightless, so she lays her eggs right on her cocoon as seen in this photo. See photos of the adult male and female here (Butterfly Conservation).
□ This moth is native to Europe, but has spread over much of the northern hemisphere, including to North America.
Photographed and identified as a cocoon by: Annette Moore. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Wiltshire, England. Date: 12 January, 2021.
Clearwing Tussock Moth Caterpillar (Perina spp.)
Clearwing tussock moth, caterpillar, in the genus Perina, subfamily Lymantriinae, family Erebidae.
□ The longer one looks at this clearwing tussock moth caterpillar, the more detail is revealed: Black-outlined, light-blue spots run down each side of a gold central stripe; small red dots circle the head; and tufts of delicate white hairs sprout from the sides of the body while a light-brown, fuzzy hump arises from its back not far behind the head.
Photographed by: Galiguti Anjaneyulu. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Hyderabad, Telangana, India. Date: 27 January, 2019.
Galiguti snapped this photo for an insect class.
Pale Tussock Moth (Calliteara pudibunda)
Pale tussock moth, caterpillar, Calliteara pudibunda, subfamily Lymantriinae, family Erebidae.
□ The pale tussock moth caterpillar can be white or pale yellow, has prolegs that look like little white boots (center photo), and when it bends, a black stripe on its back widens (stripe seen in photo at right). It looks different in its different caterpillar stages. In some stages, the longer white tuft of hair on its back (the “tail”) is quite noticeable. The photographer decribed it as having a “skull face” — an apt description!
Photographed and identified by: Sue Robinson. Location: Utkinton, near Chester, northwestern England, UK. Date: 23 September, 2019.
Tussock Moth Caterpillar (Lymantriinae)
Tussock moth, caterpillar, subfamily Lymantriinae, family Erebidae.
Photographed by: Shefali Chaudhari. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: flori farm, NAU, Gujarat, India. Date: 7 February, 2019.
Brown Tussock Moth eggs, caterpillar and pupa (Olene mendosa)
Brown tussock moth, eggs, caterpillar and pupa, Olene mendosa, subfamily Lymantriinae, family Erebidae.
□ This brown tussock moth caterpillar was photographed in India, but shares many of the same features of other tussock moths from around the world. The eggs and pupa are of the same species: See the story of this moth below.
Photographed and identified to subfamily by: Sri Charan. Location: Telangana, India. Date: 24 September, 2020. Sri found this caterpillar and fed it leaves of the plant on which it was found, as well as the leaves of hibiscus. “It ate leaves of both the plants, formed a cocoon and came out as an adult moth (see the adult by clicking here). I let it free, but soon I saw it caught by spider. I took it back to the box in which I raised the caterpillar.” Eventually the moth laid the eggs shown!
Curve-lined Owlet (Phyprosopus callitrichoides)
Curve-lined owlet, caterpillar, Phyprosopus callitrichoides, subfamily Erebinae, family Erebidae.
□ The curve-lined owlet caterpillar has two large “horns” on its body. The adult moth, which is reddish brown, has a long and curved ivory line on each forewing, and each line has a thinner brown line running down the middle. To see the adult, click here.
Photographed and identified by: Joe Sage. Location: Lake Placid, Florida, USA. Date: 12 July, 2019.
Joe says, “Check out this cool little inchworm I found in the scrub this week.”

Eupterotidae, the monkey moths

Skull-Face Moringa Caterpillar (Eupterote mollifera)
Skull-face moringa, caterpillar in the genus Eupterote, probably Eupterote mollifera, subfamily Eupterotinae, family Eupterotidae.
□ This is known as skull-face moringa caterpillar, because its face does look rather like a skull, especially when viewed head-on. To see another nice head-on photo, click here.
Photographed by: K J Westman. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Nitulemada, Digana, Rajawella, Kandy, Sri Lanka. Date: 23 March, 2016.
Add your photo here! Add your photo here!

Nymphalidae, the brush-footed butterflies

Monarch Butterfly, pupa, (Danaus plexippus)
Monarch, pupa and adult, Danaus plexippus, subfamily Danainae, family Nymphalidae.
□ This chrysalis of the monarch hung on a clothesline next to a tree for more than two weeks, finally changed from the green color to black with a good view of the orange wings inside, and within a day, the adult emerged.
□ Nobody knows for sure why the spots on the chrysalis are gold. Some think they might help break up the outline of the pupa (just as a zebra’s stripes do), so they serve as a sort of camouflage, while others think the gold alerts potential predators that the developing butterfly inside is distasteful.
Photographed by: Leslie Mertz (early pupa and adult) and Laura Saaf (late pupa) — a joint effort! Location: Houghton Lake, Michigan, USA. Date: 16-18 August, 2020.
Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar (Danaus plexippus)
Monarch, caterpillar, Danaus plexippus, subfamily Danainae, family Nymphalidae.
□ For a wonderful YouTube video about the monarch transformation from caterpillar to pupa to adult, click here. Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Michigan, USA. Date: 21 June, 2012.
Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar (Danaus plexippus)
Monarch Butterfly caterpillar, Danaus plexippus, subfamily Danainae, family Nymphalidae.
Monarch caterpillars munch on the leaves of milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.), which include butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), as the photographer found. See her comment below.
Photographed and identified by: Janice Thies. Location: Boone County (near Hartsburg), Missouri, USA. Date: 13 May, 2017.
Jan says, “Monarch caterpillar 🐛 devouring my lovely butterfly weed plant.”
Monarch Butterfly, pupa, (Danaus plexippus)
Monarch, pupa, Danaus plexippus, subfamily Danainae, family Nymphalidae.
□ The pupa or chrysalis of the monarch has a string of gold, called a diadem, about a third of the way from the top. It almost looks like a Christmas ornament.
Photographed and identified by: Annette Raper. Location: southern Ontario, Canada. Date: 24 July, 2018.
Annette says, “I have been watching the monarch pupa over the past 10 days. I think it’s getting close to emerging.”
Add your photo here! Viceroy butterfly, caterpillar, (Limenitis archippus)
Viceroy, caterpillar, Limenitis archippus, subfamily Limenitidinae, family Nymphalidae.
□ Although the adult viceroy and adult monarch may look quite similar, the caterpillars are very different. Besides being much lumpier in general, the viceroy caterpillar has smears of white that give it the appearance of bird droppings; and has two spiky horns as well as two prominent orangish humps. Compare it to the monarch caterpillar elsewhere on this page.
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Gaylord, Michigan USA. Date: 26 May, 2018.
Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus)
Plain tiger, caterpillar, Danaus chrysippus, subfamily Danainae, family Nymphalidae.
□ The yellow ovals, black stripes, bull’s eye pattern on its face, and red bases on the horns help to identify this plain tiger. The adult has rich orange-colored wings with white-spotted dark-brown edges. To see the adult, click here (naturalist.org).
Photographed by: Yanni Petropoulos. Identified by KnowYourInsects.org Location: southern Greece. Date: 1 November, 2020.
Chinese Bushbrown butterfly (Mycalesis gotama)
Chinese Bushbrown butterfly, caterpillar, Mycalesis gotama, subfamily Satyrinae, family Nymphalidae.
□ This interesting Chinese bushbrown caterpillar has gained some fame online recently, where people have been having fun naming it a Hello Kitty Caterpillar. And it certainly does have a kitten’s face!
Photographed by: K J Westman. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Sri Lanka. Date: 25 August, 2018.
K J says, “To me it looks like some kind of green snail.”
Zebra Longwing Caterpillar (Heliconius charithonia)
Zebra longwing, caterpillar, also known as a zebra heliconian, Heliconius charithonia, subfamily Heliconiinae, family Nymphalidae.
□ The zebra longwing caterpillar is mainly white decorated with small black flecks and plenty of black spikes. Most people never see the pretty orange underbelly that is on display in this photo.
Photographed and identified to order by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 18 September, 2018.
Gulf Frittilary, pupa, (Agraulis vanillae)
Gulf frittilary, pupa, Agraulis vanillae, subfamily Nymphalinae, family Nymphalidae.
□ This gulf frittilary is just transitioning from its pupal stage to the adult. Only the underside of its hindwings are showing in this photo. The underside of the forewings have a blaze of reddish/orange. To see the adult Gulf Frittilary, click here.
Photographed and identified to order by: Shelly Happel. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Tampa, Florida, USA. Date: 19 March, 2020.
Shelly says, “ First day of spring 😊”
Painted Lady, pupa, (Vanessa cardui)
Nymphalid pupa, likely Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui, subfamily Nymphalinae, family Nymphalidae.
□ The pupa, also known as a chrysalis, of a painted lady has rows of spiny bumps running down its length, as seen here. To see the adult Painted Lady, click here.
Photographed and identified to order by: Daulton Lee. Location: western Illinois, USA. Date: 21 March, 2020.
Daulton says, “A chrysalis I found attached to the brick wall at my desk at work.”
Add your photo here! Add your photo here!

Papilionidae, the swallowtails

Pipevine Swallowtail, caterpillar (Battus philenor)
Pipevine swallowtail, also known as a blue swallowtail, caterpillar, Battus philenor, subfamily Papilioninae, family Papilionidae.
□ The pipevine swallowtail caterpillar has numerous long tubercles at the front and rear, including two especially long ones near the head. The caterpillar comes in two colors: This is the dark one; the other is much more red in color.
□ To see the adult, click here.
Photographed and identified by: Gail E. Rowley. Location: Texas County, Missouri, USA. Date: 7 April, 2020.
Giant Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio cresphontes asterius)
Giant swallowtail, caterpillar, Papilio cresphontes asterius, subfamily Papilioninae, family Papilionidae.
□ The caterpillar of the giant swallowtail goes by the unflattering name of “bird poop caterpillar”, because that is what it resembles! It may not seem such a great thing, but this disguise confuses a lot of would-be predators. To see what a giant wwallowtail adult looks like, click here.
Photographed and identified by: Victor Leverenz. Location: Dryden, Michigan, USA. Date: 8 August, 2018.
Victor says, “I would not have noticed it except for the fact that there were two close together. Trying to look ugly and repulsive and inedible I guess.” He found it on prickly-ash (Zanthoxylum americanum).
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio glaucus)
Eastern tiger swallowtail, caterpillar, Papilio glaucus, subfamily Papilioninae, family Papilionidae.
□ Earlier in its development, the eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillar is lime green, but darkens as seen here before it pupates. This caterpillar shows a pinkish “necklace” with a mottled abdomen; a row of tiny white spots just in front of the necklace; and two eyespots.
□ To see the adult, click here.
Photographed and identified to order by: Dana Morisset. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Miami, Oklahoma, USA. Date: 13 June, 2020.
Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio troilus)
Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar, Papilio troilus, subfamily Papilioninae, family Papilionidae.
□ This beautiful lime-green spicebush swallowtail caterpillar has two large black-centered eyespots, two additional yellow spots behind the eyespots, and a series of small black-outlined, blue spots running down its body. This is the fifth instar, so it is just about ready to pupate. When the caterpillar is younger, it is mostly dark brown.
Photographed by: Randall Knox. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Unknown. Date: 5 June, 2019.
Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes asterius)
Eastern black swallowtail, caterpillar, Papilio polyxenes asterius, subfamily Papilioninae, family Papilionidae.
□ Compare this eastern black swallowtail caterpillar to the monarch caterpillar pictured elsewhere on this page. Monarchs are distasteful to birds, so by having a similar color and pattern, the black swallowtail caterpillar is also able to avoid becoming a bird’s lunch. (See the photographer’s comment below). To see the adult Black Swallowtail butterfly, click here.
Photographed and identified by: Annette Raper. Location: Waterdown, Ontario, Canada. Date: 5 August, 2019.
Annette says, “Just captured these images munching on my parsley. First we thought they were Monarchs. Good mimicry.”
Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes asterius)
Eastern black swallowtail, caterpillar, Papilio polyxenes asterius, subfamily Papilioninae, family Papilionidae.
□ The female eastern black swallowtail butterfly will lay a single, green egg on a plant stem. As the caterpillar develops inside, the egg darkens. When it is nearly black, a caterpillar hatches out. The caterpillar then goes through stages (instars) before it pupates. During the first two instars, the caterpillar is black and spiny and has a small white area, called a saddle, at about mid-back. The later instars are green with black and yellow markings, like this one.
Photographed and identified by: Celia Godwin. Location: eastern Ontario, Canada. Date: 3 August, 2012.
Celia says, “ I’m a gardener interested in all the life forms I find in my garden.”
Two-Tailed Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio multicaudata)
Two-tailed swallowtail, caterpillar, Papilio multicaudata, subfamily Papilioninae, family Papilionidae.
□ The two-tailed swallowtail caterpillar is green throughout most of its development, but turns reddish-brown, as seen here, just before it pupates.
□ To see the adult Two-Tailed Swallowtail, click here (Bugguide.net). The adult looks similar to an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), but has two tails on each hind wing instead of one.
Photographed and identified to order by: Lynette Crockett. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, Linden, Arizona, USA. Date: 2 September, 2019.
Lynette says, “It was just spinning its cocoon when I took this picture.”
Asian Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio xuthus)
Asian swallowtail, also known as a Chinese yellow swallowtail, caterpillar, Papilio xuthus, subfamily Papilioninae, family Papilionidae.
□ The caterpillar of an Asian swallowtail looks much different early on (shown here) when it is brown and white, and later in its development, when it becomes lime green with a large head and black “necklace.”. The photographer found this caterpillar on a cinnamon plant (or in malayalam, patta).
□ The adult has black-and-white wings with a row of blue markings and two red eye spots on the hind wings. To see the different life stages, click here (inaturalist.org).
Photographed and identified to order by: Binu Correya. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Ernakulam, Kerala, India. Date: 7 June, 2020.
Common Mime caterpillar (Papilio clytia)
Common mime, caterpillar, Papilio clytia, subfamily Papilioninae, family Papilionidae.
□ When very young, the caterpillar of a common mime is brown, black, yellow and white, and looks much like bird droppings. Later in its development, it takes on this appearance with yellow patches and red spots on a black background.
□ To see the adult, click here (Butterflies of India). The photographer found this caterpillar on a cinnamon plant (or in malayalam, patta).
Photographed and identified to order by: Binu Correya. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Ernakulam, Kerala, India. Date: 7 June, 2020.
Papilionid caterpillar
Papilionid caterpillar, family Papilionidae.
□ Like many caterpillars in the swallowtail family, this papilionid caterpillar has a swollen thorax with eyespots — the combined effect make the thorax look like a large head, which can be helpful in warding off predators.
Photographed by: Spoorthi Sv. Identified to family by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Shivamogga (Shimoga), Karnataka state, southwest India. Date: 7 March, 2018.

Pieridae, the whites, yellows and sulphurs

Cabbage White eggs (Pieris spp.)
Eggs of the genus Pieris, subfamily Pierinae, family Pieridae.
□ These eggs of a butterfly in the genus Pieris have an intricate design and a lovely yellow color. The larvae, or caterpillars, haven’t hatched from these eggs yet. See the caterpillars in the next photo. To see the adults, click here.
Photographed by: Paula French. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: London, UK. Date: July, 2018.
Cabbage White caterpillars (Pieris rapae)
Caterpillars of the genus Pieris, subfamily Pierinae, family Pieridae.
□ This collection of caterpillars in the genus Pieris shift from blue-green near the head to lemon-yellow at the rear, and are covered with black speckles. To see the adults, click here.
Photographed by: Paula French. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: London, UK. Date: July, 2018.
Large White caterpillar (Pieris brassicae)
Large white, caterpillar, Pieris brassicae, subfamily Pierinae, family Pieridae.
□ This large white caterpillar has a white stripe on each side, and black spots on a green background. The photographer found it on a rocket herb. The large white is native to Europe, but has spread to Africa, where this photo was taken.
Photographed and identified to order by: Natalie Rowles. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Pinetown, South Africa (near Durban, KwaZulu-Natal). Date: 18 May, 2020.
“This plant is really my honeybee attraction, as well now these caterpillars which are chewing up all the leaves like pairs of scissors trimming the bush into a smaller shape too!”
Cabbage butterfly caterpillars (Pieris spp.)
Cabbage butterflies, caterpillars in the genus Pieris, subfamily Pierinae, family Pieridae.
□ These caterpillars of a cabbage butterfly nearly completely cover this plant stem. India has several species in the genus Pieris. To see the variety in India, click here (Butterflies of India website).
Photographed and identified by: A.R Ramya. Location: Kashmir,India. Date: 8 May, 2021.
A.R Ramya described the caterpillars as early instars.
Lemon immigrant (Caropsilia pomona)
Lemon immigrant, caterpillar, Caropsilia pomona, subfamily Coliadinae, family Pieridae.
□ This is the fifth and final instar (stage) of the lemon immigrant caterpillar before it transforms into a pupa. From there, it will go through its final transformation into a an adult. Adult males are yellow, while females are pale green. See note below.
Photographed by: Priti Turakhia. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Sakwar, Maharashtra, India. Date: 21 June, 2021.
Priti found several of these caterpillars on a golden shower tree (Senna fistula). This caterpillar will also feed on the leaves of other trees in the genus Senna.
Orange Barred Sulphur, caterpillar (Phoebis philea)
Orange barred sulphur, caterpillar, Phoebis philea, subfamily Coliadinae, family Pieridae.
□ The orange barred sulphur caterpillar is a rich yellow color with black spots and patterns of small and large vertical bars along the sides. Depending on the state of the caterpillar, the bar can be much more prominent.
Photographed and identified to order by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 18 September, 2018.
Cloudless Sulphur, caterpillar (Phoebis sennae)
Cloudless sulphur, caterpillar, Phoebis sennae, subfamily Coliadinae, family Pieridae.
□ The caterpillar of the cloudless sulphur has thin black bars on a lemon-yellow background.
Photographed and identified by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 24 August, 2018.


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