Wisconsin Native Caterpillars

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) caterpillar

Red-Spotted Purple Caterpillar

Genus-Species: Leminitis arthemis astyanax

Description: Resembles bird droppings in all stages. May be mottled brown or green with creamy blotches and two knobby horns on thorax. To distinguish Red-spotted Purple caterpillars from Vicery caterpillars, look for rounded rather than spiked projections behind the head.

Chrysalis: Shiny brown and white. Also resembles a bird dropping. Thorax has a a large, keel-like projection.

Host Plants: Leaves of many species of trees and shrubs including Wild cherry (Prunus species), Aspen and Cottonwood (Populus species), Oaks (Quercus species), Hawthorn (Crataegus species), Birch (Betula species), Willows (Salix species), Basswood (Tilia americana), and Shadbush or Serviceberry (Amelanchier species)

Habitat: Forest edges and openings, and roadsides and trails through wooded areas.

Comments: The Red-spotted Purple is a common butterfly in the southern half of Wisconsin. Throughout central Wisconsin, this subspecies and the White Admiral are both present, and sometimes they hybridize. The offspring can have characteristics anywhere between the two subspecies. This butterfly is often found taking nutrients from gravel roads, roadsides, or scat.

Adult Butterfly Profile
Bog Fritillary, Boloria eunomia

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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.

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Caterpillar Quiz

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.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus

How Caterpillars Change Into Butterflies

How does this magic happen? Learn about metamorphosis - the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult bitterfly.

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