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.