Pictures of Caterpillars

by puzzlemaker

As you can see, I'm a bit of a caterpillar nerd. These are the best caterpillar photos I've ever taken. Some caterpillars I've identified, some I haven't.

My Favorite Pictures of Unique Caterpillars

From my own collection

I've made a folder on my computer to hold all the caterpillar pictures I've taken over the years. If I held that virtual folder in my real hands it would be stuffed so full of prints that they'd be falling out on the floor. Just for fun I decided to pick out my favorite photos of caterpillars and share them on this page. I also love photographing the miraculous moths and butterflies these critters turn into, but moths and butterflies rarely sit still for photography! For me, these caterpillars are much easier to photograph.

At the time of publishing this article I've add photos of seven amazing caterpillars. I hope to add more and more as I find and photograph them.

#1. Photo of Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar

Green caterpillar with yellow spots and large eye spots
Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar
Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar
Copyright © Paige Graves

Where I found it: Jacksonville, Florida

What plant was it on? Sassafrass? Can't remember

Did I raise it to moth/butterfly? No

Scientific name: Papilio troilus

Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars go through different stages (instars) and look completely different along the way. This stage is the last one before it makes a chrysalis.  I took this photo while attending a butterfly class by butterfly expert Mark Minnow. To say I enjoyed the class would be putting it lightly. It was such fun to be around other people who also loved and studied butterflies. I was so impressed by this caterpillar I immediately purchased a host plant (a spicebush) for my own yard and yes! I eventually had a caterpillar just like this on my plant.

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#2. Caterpillar of a White Furcula Moth

Notice the two colors - these are at different stages
Furcula Moth Caterpillar
Furcula Moth Caterpillar
Copyright © Paige Graves

Where I found it: Jacksonville, Florida while on a nature walk

What plant was it on? Wild cherry tree

Did I raise it to moth/butterfly? Yes

Scientific name: Furcula borealis

I found these 2 caterpillars by accident. I drove all the way home with them not knowing they were on the same branch with a tent caterpillar i was after. Even with the internet it was hard to identify these little guys. I searched terms such as forked tail, spiked tail, tail in two parts, green, yellow, saddle etc. and finally identified it. I also sent my findings and photos to What's that Bug to confirm the ID. And they published my photos and comments! It made me feel great to see my very own photos on the web. By the way, What's that Bug is the best insect ID website in the world. If you go there, I'm just warning you that you'll be there for hours.

See the cocoon and moth this caterpillar turned into:

White Furcula Moth emerged from Cocoon
White Furcula Moth emerged from Cocoon
Copyright © Paige Graves

#3. Echo Moth Caterpillar

Fuzzy orange with black and yellow ribs / stripes/ bands
Echo Moth Caterpillar
Echo Moth Caterpillar
Copyright © Paige Graves

Where I found it: Washington Oaks State Park, Palm Coast, Florida

What plant was it on? it was crawling along a path

Did I raise it to moth/butterfly? No

Scientific name: Seirarctia echo

My daughter actually found this one just before she stepped on it. How handsome! It is large and has orange spikes (also described as fuzzy orange) with a black body and yellow ribs, rings or some call them stripes. It's the first Echo moth caterpillar we've ever seen. Since this little guy wasn't on a plant, it was probably ready to undergo metamophasis and was crawling away from it's host plant on the way to a safe place to change.

#4. Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

Green with white dots and large eye spots with a spiked tail (horned tail)
Tersa Sphinx Moth
Tersa Sphinx Moth
Copyright © Paige Graves

Where I found it: Jacksonville, Florida

What plant was it on? Penta!

Did I raise it to moth/butterfly? Yes

Scientific name: Xylophanes tersa

Isn't this moth caterpillar amazing? Those "eyes" are enough to scare off many predators. They really aren't eyes though, they are actually called "eye spots" and make the caterpillar look bigger. We raised this little critter and if I remember correctly he turned brown after this green stage.

See the moth this caterpillar turned into:

Tersa Sphinx Moth
Tersa Sphinx Moth
Copyright © Paige Graves

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I own this. It's very small, but perfect for looking at small things like butterfly eggs, coins etc.
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#5. Tussock Moth - I *think* it's the Definite Tussock Moth

Not 100% sure on this one
Tussock Moth
Tussock Moth

Where I found it: Columbia, South Carolina - at Mom's

What plant was it on? Sassafrass Tree

Did I raise it to moth/butterfly? No

Scientific name: Not sure

Looking through my new Caterpillars of Eastern North America Guide, this looks most like the Definite Tussock Moth, although the picture in the guide doesn't have the red spots along the back. Everything else is the same. If you happen to know about this caterpillar and/or moth please tell me in the guestbook. Thanks!

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#6. Caterpillar of the Red Spotted Purple Butterfly

Brownish gray with two "horns" or "antlers"
Red Spotted Purple Caterpillar
Red Spotted Purple Caterpillar
Copyright © Paige Graves

Where I found it: Columbia, South Carolina in my mom's yard.

What plant was it on: Hawthorn

Did I raise it to moth/butterfly? I didn't, but my mom did.

Very slight movement from the leaf of a Hawthorn tree caught my eye and this is what I found. This is the only Red-spotted Purple Butterfly caterpillar I've ever seen and it is a prize for me. One look at the butterfly and you'll see why some witty butterfly afficianados call it the Orange Spotted Blue instead. These caterpillars look almost identical to the Viceroy Butterfly caterpillar. Both look a little like bird poop and have "horns" which is thought to be camoflauge (my field guide does not call the horns antennae so I'm not sure if they are considered antennae or not). I know for sure the one I found was a RSP because my mom raised it and saw it change. A Viceroy is mainly bright orange.

Here's a photo of what it turns into:

Photo used through CC by Jenny Pansing

 

#7. Great Leopard Moth Caterpillar - Black and Bristly

Also known as the Giant Leopard Moth or Eyed Tiger Moth Caterpillar
Great Leopard Moth Caterpillar
Great Leopard Moth Caterpillar
Copyright © Paige Graves

Where I found it: St. Augustine, Florida

What plant was it on? some type of clover

Did I raise it to moth/butterfly? Not this one, but many others - yes

Scientific name: Hypercompe scribonia

I love how the caterpillar is holding onto the plant in this photo. We've raised many of these fuzzy black caterpillars. They turn into an amazing white moth with black circles or spots. I like them so much I wrote an entire article about them. Read more about the Great Leopard Moth here.

Here's a photo of what it turns into:


Photo used through CC by Normanack

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Updated: on 05/27/2014, puzzlemaker
 
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?
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Have you raised any caterpillars or found any interesting looking caterpillars?


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Jess on 09/16/2014

Thanks for the informative site. It helped us to identify a Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar. Quite the mystery since we found it in Athabasca, Alberta - a great distance from it's normal locale.

Nancy Crawford on 08/14/2014

I live in Ocala, FL and just today found a Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillar on my Penta plant. No one knew what it was until a friend found it & shared your site with me.

Brenda on 04/22/2014

Yesterday, I noticed what I thought at first was a very long(3-4 foot)and skinny black snake in my yard. Upon further investigation, it was a massive "train" of slow moving black caterpillars all in a straight line, moving across the yard. I lost count at 75 caterpillars! Throughout the day, more and more slow moving lines came down from the oak tree into the yard. We also saw three more trains of them this morning. We have never seen anything like this! It was amazing. They are solid black, with hairy spines and have shiny black heads. It appeared that they stop from time to time, bunch up in a huge ball and get very still.....like maybe they are sleeping. One mass of caterpillars stayed bunched up and still for about 45 minutes, then they "woke up" and starting the slow procession again. We have lived in the woods for many years, but this was the first time we have seen this strange procession> Does anyone know what kind they may be? And what exactly are they doing? My first thought was they had just hatched and were heading to grass and bushes to eat before their next stage. I assumed they take on the look of a "Snake" to protect them from birds on their journey. But this is just speculation on my part. Any answers, I would appreciate. I am posting a picture I took.

Kevin on 03/01/2014

I have a lot I mine a lot of giant leopard moth caterpillars in my yard their everywhere . red level Alabama

2uesday on 09/04/2013

I like butterflies and the caterpillars are fascinating but I am not too happy when they eat the leaves of my plants. However I am too kind to use sprays on them so the caterpillars are allowed to complete their life cycle.

Julie on 09/04/2013

I just took a photo of a Tussock Moth caterpillar on my rose bush this morning. I'd never seen them in North Carolina before and I've lived here since 1977. Hope they don't stick around here.

James on 02/01/2013

The Tussock Moth Caterpillar looks like the caterpillars I use to see by the hundreds, if not thousands every year in the Corlears Hook Park, and other parks in NYC...when I was just a boy in the 1940s.

I've never seen them anywhere else.

Night Safari on 07/06/2012

Nice post. Different types of caterpillars, i had never seen it before bu got a chance now to watch and know about them.

Jasmine Smith on 01/06/2012

I think this is one of the most important information for me. And i'm glad reading your article. But want to remark on few general things, The site style is wonderful, the articles is really nice : D. Good job, cheers.

ForestBear on 08/03/2011

Wonderful caterpillar page. Very interesting and love the photos.




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