Tuesday, 11 May 2021
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caterpillar identification chart

How to identify a caterpillar?


     Caterpillars are the larval stage of moths and butterflies. They can be distinguished from other insect larvae by looking at their body parts. On the caterpillar, three pairs of "real" legs extend from each segment of its ribcage. The first two segments of the caterpillar's legs never have protoles, which are small, fleshy, leg-like parts, but these can be found on other segments. Caterpillars can have up to eight pairs of prostheses. Caterpillars have a real head and mouths that can be chewed. After the caterpillars emerge from pupae / pupae in the form of butterflies or moths, most adult insects do not have such mouth cavities. Instead, they may have a so-called proboscis, a tubular appendage-like appendage that can drink nectar from flowers.


     Different types of Lepidoptera caterpillars vary greatly in appearance. Caterpillars often rely on their appearance to survive and progress to the pupal and adult stages. Otherwise, they would be more tempting for potential predators such as birds and other animals. Of course, some caterpillars are just good at hiding from predators. They can hide under leaves or become active after dark. And some of them actually carry camouflage to hide. Caterpillars such as loops resemble twigs, while others use real plant and flower pieces to attach their bodies. Some caterpillars even look like bird poop, and birds probably won't want to eat them! Another smart track tactic is warning signs. Have you ever seen the striking, showy stripes of the Monarch caterpillar? These yellow and black stripes basically tell you and other animals to stay away. The food would be very toxic to any animal. You will also find non-toxic caterpillars that mimic toxic ones. Others may not look poisonous, but you shouldn't touch them anyway. These include woolly worms or woolly bears, known for their fluffy, long, black and brown hair. Caterpillars of the Tussock moth also have hair on their bodies. One ingenious trick that some caterpillars have is the markings that look like the eyes of a large animal. These are just a few of the many ways caterpillars try to survive into adulthood, making them interesting animals to study.


     Eventually, after several molts, the caterpillars will enter the pupa or pupa stage. This pupa attaches to the leaf of any plant that the caterpillar prefers to eat, or to another safe place, such as bedding or even underground. Eventually, a new butterfly or moth appears. Considering how astoundingly some butterflies and moths become adults, there is an endless reward for watching Lepidoptera animals.

Green caterpillar identification

Green caterpillar identification.

    She has a rather remarkable appearance, it is difficult to confuse her with any other species. It is a large light green caterpillar with a blue "horn" on its tail. On her body, you can see oblique light stripes and many small white specks arranged in a certain order. Also on the sides are noticeable red oval dots of spiracles. The head of this caterpillar is reminiscent of supercar design: beveled corners, aerodynamic smooth shapes, converging at an acute angle at the top, the angle separating the front and side surfaces is highlighted by a bright yellow stripe.

    After pupating, this caterpillar will turn out to be a large moth with a rather realistic eye pattern on its lower wings to scare away birds, which is why this species got its name.

Fuzzy caterpillar identification

Fuzzy caterpillar identification.

    Fuzzy caterpillars usually feed on oak and elm leaves, according to the State Department of Forestry (VDOF). But sometimes they can be found in parks and near buildings. The back of these creatures is covered with long hair-like bristles. At an early stage, these bristles begin to curl strongly and from a distance, the caterpillars become like hairballs. Under this thick hairline, poisonous thorns are hidden, which are better for people and animals never to touch.

    What kind of poisonous substances are contained in these thorns is not reported, but we know the consequences of contact with them. In almost all cases, at the site of contact with the thorns, people experience severe redness and swelling. In addition to this, some people experience severe headache, fever, nausea, rapid heartbeat, cramps, and abdominal pain. As you can see, there is nothing good in contact with them.

Moth caterpillar identification

Moth caterpillar identification.

    The caterpillar's body length is about 1 mm. As a moth caterpillar matures, its body length can reach 12 mm. The body of the insect has six pairs of short legs. Two pairs of legs are located on the first segments, and the other four pairs on the belly of the caterpillar. The fattier the food of the moth larva, the larger and thicker the caterpillar will be.
    The type of moth caterpillar depends on the type of moth that laid its eggs. In the family of moths there are more than 40 species, but the most dangerous for residential buildings are food moths, clothes moths (room moths), furniture moths, fur moths, carpet moths.
    There are also other types of moth caterpillars. For example, the caterpillar of the fruit moth, which feeds on dried fruits, mushrooms and nuts; the caterpillar of the grain moth, which eats barley, rye, wheat, rice and other grains, as well as the caterpillar of the cabbage moth, a pest of cruciferous crops.

Black caterpillar identification

Black caterpillar identification.

    The wingspan is 50-80 mm. Fore wing length 25-33 mm. The color of the upper side of the wings is brown-white with an irregular sinuous pattern, which is highly variable. The dorsum of the hind wing is light red with five large, rounded spots, the color of which varies from black to bluish. The head and thorax are dark, reddish-brown, the abdomen is red, with black transverse stripes. Butterflies are polymorphic. Each individual has an individual pattern of the upper side of the wings. The upper side of the hindwings may be red or yellow, with many or no spots, or solid black.

    Individuals developing under the same conditions sometimes exhibit color variability, and sometimes these differences are so great that butterflies can be mistaken for representatives of different species.

Moth cocoon identification chart

Moth cocoon identification chart.

    It differs from the larval ages preceding it in the presence of protopterons (immobile wing buds), as well as other features of similarity with an adult insect - a similar structure of the body, legs, antennae, oral appendages, etc., and in this respect it is similar to nymphs (that is, larvae of older ages ) in other insects. From nymphs of other insects, the pupa of insects with complete transformation differs in an inactive lifestyle, inability to eat, in a characteristic posture of legs (motionlessly bent at the knees) and fixed antennae. Unlike other insects, which have several nymphal ages, fully transformed insects always have only one pupal age.
    The pupa is always unable to feed; its mandibles can be mobile or immobile, other oral appendages (maxilla and lower lip) are immobile. The antennae are always motionless until the molt on the imago; in this case, the structure of the antennae is similar to the imaginal and sharply differs from the larval. The legs are motionlessly bent at the knees so that the lower leg is pressed to the thigh; the legs are unable to unbend and function at least to the state of the pharat imago; in the state of pharat imago, the legs either remain motionless until they molt onto the imago, or acquire the ability to extend the knees and move (see below). Protopterons are always directed ventrally-posteriorly with their apices and project ventral to the body.           There is the following difference in the position of the mesothorax and metathorax appendages, which is not associated with their imaginal or larval specializations: on the mesothorax, the legs are directed with the knees forward, and the protopterons are deflected backward, bypassing the base of the legs from behind; on the metathorax, the knees of the legs are deflected backward, and the protopterons are deflected forward, so that they either bypass the bases of the legs in front or lean on them.

    As a result, on each side of the body, the apex of the anterior protopteron broadly overlaps the apex of the posterior protopteron, and the knees of the front and hind legs protrude in front of the protopterons. Usually, the front and middle legs of the pupa are located the same: their hips are directed almost forward parallel to each other, and the tibia and tarsus are directed backward, in contrast to the hind legs, in which the hips are directed at an angle to the thighs of the fore and middle legs. According to the position of the protopterons and legs, the Metabola pupa differs from the resting nymphs of thrips and coccids.


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Pest Traps Team

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