Attract Butterflies To Your Garden
Where Do Butterflies Go In Winter?
Butterfly Metamorphosis: How it Works
Wisconsin Butterfly Parks & Gardens
Caterpillar Anatomy Tutorial
Did you find a caterpillar nibbling on a plant in your garden? Want to find out more about that guest?
Caterpillars are the larval stage of butterflies and moths. It is the second part of their
four-stage life cycle (egg, larva, pupa, adult).
Caterpillars can change dramatically from when they first hatch to when they're ready
to pupate. Caterpillars come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Some can increase
their body mass 10,000-fold in just a few weeks - many
look very different as they grow.
Here are 50 of the species that you are most like to identify in Wisconsin.
Click on an image to find the details about that caterpillar or select a caterpillar name from
the drop-down box on the left.
Watch the caterpillar to see where it lives and what it’s eating: Usually, caterpillars
will live near or on the plants that they eat. When you find a caterpillar, try to identify
the plants around it, and observe as it eats the leaves and flowers.
Look closely and identify the most visible color on its body: This can help you
narrow down the species. Keep in mind that the color of a caterpillar can sometimes
change depending on its life cycle and growth.
Make note of any patterns along the caterpillar’s body: Many caterpillars have
body markings that are meant to provide camouflage. Look for bands, slashes, spots,
stripes, or textures that give the insect a unique appearance. Sometimes, they can be a
slightly darker or lighter shade than the main body color, or the markings can be a
different color altogether
Inspect the hair density on the body of the caterpillar: Caterpillars are sometimes
covered with tiny hairs, called setae, that provide them with a sense of touch. Look at the
hair on the caterpillar's body to see if it’s dense, tufted, sparse, or very short.
Look for any distinctive physical features on the caterpillar: Check to see if the
caterpillar has a curled tail, head horns, knobs, lashes, spines, or a split tail. These can
all be good indicators for certain caterpillar species and will help you narrow down your
Use the thumbnail images on the page as a guide — click on the image to get a full-size
image and the species details.
Caterpillars come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Some caterpillars are quite hairy,
while others are smooth. Despite differences between species, though, all caterpillars
share certain morphological features.
Take this quick quiz and see how much you know about caterpillars. This quiz is intended for fun, in
a random-facts-can-be-cool kind of way.
How does this magic happen? Learn about metamorphosis - the process of transformation from an
immature form to an adult bitterfly.