Insects of the black caterpillar family come in a variety of sizes and forms. The order Lepidoptera includes all caterpillar species. Caterpillars munch on plant and tree leaves after hatching from an egg. Several kinds of black caterpillars are intriguing to observe, while others might be terrifying. Caterpillars that have hair-like spines and are black with a fuzzy appearance. The orange and yellow patterns found on other common black caterpillars are vivid.
Even though some black caterpillars may seem unattractive and disgusting, they transform into gorgeous butterflies or moths. The Monarch caterpillar, for example, has white and yellow tiger stripes on its black body. This caterpillar changes into the gorgeous Monarch butterfly after completing its pupal phase.
Even though they may look dangerous, most silky black caterpillars are benign and don’t sting. Spines and setae (fine bristles) may be bothersome on many huge black fuzzy caterpillar species. These black worms may have spines that give a painful sting, despite their hairy and fluffy appearance.
Black Caterpillar Identification
The kind of hairy covering and specific markings such as stripes and spots must be noted when identifying black caterpillars. Furry caterpillars of several kinds appear to be deceiving. Woolly caterpillars, for example, may appear to be fuzzy worms.
Their bristles are, nonetheless, a defensive device that may be painful and spiky. You’ll learn about the most frequent varieties of black caterpillars, as well as images, in this article. You’ll learn how to differentiate between different caterpillar species and what makes them unique.
Types of Black Fuzzy Caterpillars With Pictures and Names
Let’s start with some of the weirdest varieties of black caterpillars: black fuzzy caterpillars.
Woolly Bear Caterpillar
One of the most prevalent caterpillars you’ll see in late summer is the Woolly Bear Caterpillar, which has black and orange or brown hairs. The broad brown or orange band around the caterpillar’s middle and black ends make it easy to identify. Caterpillars that are black or brown aren’t dangerous, nor do they sting.
Skin irritation or contact dermatitis are common symptoms when handling one of these fuzzy worm-like creatures with its spiky tufts of hair. The Woolly Bear caterpillar’s defense mechanism is one of its characteristics. The caterpillar curls up into a spiky ball when it’s under attack. They flee to safety as soon as the danger has passed. This spiky-looking caterpillar devours herbs, tree leaves, and other plants and is also known as the Isabella Tiger Moth caterpillar.
This hairy caterpillar has short spiky tufts of brown/orange and black hairs. This is a 2.3” (6 cm) long caterpillar that is one of the largest black hairy caterpillars.
Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar
The black, spiky caterpillar with crimson stripes between its black parts is known as the Giant Leopard caterpillar. The Garden Bug larva (Hypercompe scribonia) is a black bug with spiky horns that eats your garden plants. The black spines of these black fuzzy caterpillars are pointy and needle-like, despite their appearance.
The red stripes (bands) between the black segments of the black Giant Leopard caterpillar species are one of its most distinguishing characteristics.
These appear to make the spiky caterpillar look black and red fuzzy while it is crawling. The spikes may be painful if they brush your skin, but this caterpillar species does not sting. These black and red caterpillars can be found across Texas, Florida, Mexico, and the United States’ East Coast.
The Giant Leopard moth caterpillar is a black hairy caterpillar with black spiky points and hard, stiff spikes. The Giant Leopard caterpillar’s rolls up are covered in sharp black spines that wear red stripes to defend themselves. The Giant Leopard grows to a maximum height of 2 inches (5 cm).
Garden Tiger Moth Caterpillar
The Garden Tiger caterpillar (Arctia caja) is a fuzzy woolly bear that has black, orange, and gray hair-like spines. The Artica genus of the Erebidae family of crawling insects contains this blackish caterpillar. Black, orange, and grayish-white spines (setae) make up the long hair-like spines.
Any sort of leaves can be eaten by this long caterpillar. Garden Tiger caterpillars have a fuzzy backbone that may cause skin discomfort, but they don’t sting. The black and orange hairy caterpillar becomes a lovely moth after pupation. A pair of orange wings with blue and black patterns are joined by a set of black and white wings.
An orange-spined, spiky gray caterpillar with a fuzzy appearance. This species reaches a length of around 2.3 inches (6 cm) like most woolly caterpillars.
Scarce Dagger Moth Caterpillar
The Scarce Dagger caterpillar (Acronicta Eurycoma) is a pure black caterpillar with tufts of black and orange/yellow setae on its back. It has pale dots on its body. The black and orange caterpillar has a fuzzy appearance. Each segment has just a single pair of tiny clumps of fine hairs.
Bright yellow or orange spines cover the head and tail, as well as the in-between spines. Predators think it looks like a wasp due to its yellow and black caterpillar patterns. The hairs of this hairy black species may be uncomfortable on your skin, despite the fact that they are not poisonous or toxic. The patterns on the adult moth give it the name of ‘dagger moth caterpillar.’
Several yellow or white dots and tufts of yellow/orange spines cover the black fuzzy caterpillar.
The Walnut caterpillar is a black crawling insect with long white spindly spines covering its black body. It has a black body and white-gray hairs. The Notodontidae family includes this black and white fuzzy caterpillar. The Walnut caterpillar moves in groups, which is one of its most interesting features.
These caterpillars are frequently spotted traveling in large swaths with others. They are known as “processionary caterpillars” because of this reason.
The caterpillar has a fuzzy wispy appearance due to the fine grayish hairs that cover its glossy plump black body.
Other Types of Black Caterpillars With Pictures and Names
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the other fascinating black caterpillars, including the Lepidoptera order of insects.
Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
Immature Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars (Papilio polyxenes) have a short plump black body with yellow and white markings. The larvae develop into a bright green caterpillar with black and yellow stripes as they mature. Black Swallowtails have black and white saddle patterns when they’re still caterpillars. Since they look like bird droppings, this serves as a defense mechanism.
Carrot leaves, parsley, and other green leaves are often where they spend their time. Since it feeds on these plants, this species is also known as the “Parsnip Swallowtail” or “Parsley worm.”
These larvae have a black segmented body with yellow and white dots when they are in their immature stage. On the segments, there are also tiny soft spikes.
Peacock Butterfly Caterpillar
The Peacock caterpillar has little white dots on its body and black bristles that distinguish it from other caterpillars. The rounded black head and numerous segments of these long-bodied caterpillars The quantity of spurs on each segment is a prominent attribute of these insects.
The spines are totally safe, despite the fact that they seem painful and ferocious. The Peacock butterfly caterpillar is, in actuality, non-stinging. The small white dots that cover the body of this caterpillar species are another identifying feature. The caterpillar’s appearance is further enhanced by the contrast between the black segments and the shiny black segments.
The cylindrical slender body of the Peacock caterpillar is covered with soft black bristles and white dots. Caterpillars of this European variety grow to be around 1.5″ (4 cm) long.
Mourning Cloak Caterpillar
The Mourning Cloak caterpillar (Nymphalis antiopa) has orange-red dots and white dots on its body. The Nymphalidae family of insects includes this spiny caterpillar. This is known as the ‘spiny elm caterpillar’ because of its spiky appearance and affection for elm leaves. The long body is dark gray with reddish-orange markings on each segment.
Little white specks, comparable to those found on the Peacock Caterpillar, cover the whole body. A deeper black line runs up the length of the body as well. You don’t have to be concerned because the caterpillar looks jagged. The pointed, lustrous spines serve as a predator protection mechanism while being non-poisonous.
A spiky black body with a crimson-brown dots running up its back.
Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar
The Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) is distinguished by its dark-brown or black body and orange spikes. The smooth body of this caterpillar, which is covered in bright red or orange spines, identifies it. The Papilionidae family of caterpillars includes these. Caterpillars’ defense abilities are one of the most interesting features in this Troidini group. From behind their head, the caterpillar can extend a tongue-like structure.
This is meant to frighten predators and resembles a snake’s tongue. Pipevine plants are common in Florida, Texas, and California, and these black and orange caterpillars feed on them. The caterpillars themselves absorb harmful chemicals from these plants, making them unappealing to birds and insects. Although the reddish-orange and black spiky caterpillars may appear dangerous, they don’t actually sting humans.
A buck with a crimson-orange spicules protruding from all sides of its body.
The Black Cutworm caterpillar (Agrotis ipsilon) is a obese long dark brown-gray caterpillar with a smooth black body that varies in color from gray to brown. Its lustrous black body has no spiky, hairy, or thorny surfaces. This is a genuine caterpillar species from the Noctuidae insect family, despite its name.
The ability of these long, fat caterpillars to chop down plants at the stem gives them their name. They destroy plants at their roots by creeping up stems to feed on leaves. These segmented insects come in a variety of hues, from gray to brown to near black. Because the caterpillar’s head is covered in black freckles, you can identify it easily.
Apart from its sleek glossy body, the Black Cutworm has no distinguishing characteristics.
The Catalpa Sphinx (Ceratomia catalpae) or sometimes known as the Catalpa Worm is a mature caterpillar with yellow bands along each side. Gorging caterpillars may devour leaves on trees in large numbers. The Sphingidae family includes a caterpillar that looks like a hawk moth.
As they grow up, the Catalpa Sphinx caterpillars turn glossy black. Immature larvae are often pale in color with few markings. They turn completely black as they get darker. Yellow lines down each side are another identifying feature. On each side of the caterpillar, these join to form a yellow row.
These caterpillars have a frightening-looking long spike at their tail, despite the fact that they are a benign type. Their feet at the head end are black, while their prolegs in the middle section are golden.
A lustrous black segmented body with yellow sides distinguishes this yellow and black caterpillar. The Catalpa Sphinx, which may reach 2 inches (5 cm) in length, is a big caterpillar.
The Azalea caterpillar (Datana major) has an orange-colored head and black body with yellow stripes. Florida, Kansas, and states along the East coast of the United States are home to this caterpillar species. The Azalea caterpillar has a variety of markings, which may be black or white in color.
The globular orange head, orange rear half, and many yellow markings covering the caterpillar’s body are used to identify it. The prolegs of the long crawling bug are also unusual.
You may also see spindly hairs protruding from its body when you look up close. While this caterpillar has spiky hairs, they aren’t much and it doesn’t seem fuzzy or hairy. These Datana caterpillars may cause a lot of destruction to crops and plants in areas where they are common. Gardeners and farmers, for example, frequently feed in groups.
Caterpillars with a silky-smooth body that are long and yellow.
Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar
The Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar (Xylophanes tersa) has a variety of looks depending on its stage. Due to their phony eye designs down the back, it’s simple to recognize these caterpillars in the Sphingidae family. Southern states such as Texas and Arizona, as well as Central and South America, are home to Tersa Sphinx caterpillars.
The Tersa Sphinx is a caterpillar with distinct eye patterns and a horn at one end, which may be light brown-beige in color or dark brown in color depending on its stage. The name “sphinx” comes from the way caterpillars in this genus rest with their front body raised up. This species is harmless and doesn’t bite or sting, much like other hornworm and hawk moth caterpillars.
Caterpillars with defensive markings that resemble eyeballs are called eyes.
The White-lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata) is a common hawk moth with a single orange horn and little white or orange dots on its body. Some larvae are black and orange, while others are brilliant green, and this kind of caterpillar changes color. The solitary orange horn on the tail end of one of the features of the black form of White-lined Sphinx is. The horn may be yellow with a black tip, or it may be black. The horn is completely harmless, despite its resemblance to a stinger.
There are distinctive white or orange markings on the body of these Sphinx caterpillars, much like with other Sphinx caterpillars. A pair of bigger dots sits on each segment’s side, appearing like clusters of little dots. The gorgeous pink and white moths that emerge from the pupae are named after this caterpillar.
A corpulent black body with unicorn-like spines on the rear of the creature.
Frequently Asked Questions about Black Caterpillars
Are black caterpillars types of worms?
While certain black caterpillars are known as worms, they are not related. The Insecta class includes all caterpillars, black, green, striped, and furry. Invertebrates, not insects, are known as worms.
Are black caterpillars poisonous?
Human harm is rare from black caterpillars, which are mostly non-venomous. Stinging barbs or spurs on certain species of hairy black caterpillars may cause skin problems and dermatitis. Butterfly caterpillars don’t sting, but only fuzzy moth caterpillars may sting.
Can furry black caterpillars predict winter?
Some people believe that the length of winter may be predicted by the width of the brown band on the Wooly Bear caterpillar. This is not correct, and there is no proof to support it.
Do caterpillars bite humans?
Caterpillars’ mouths are too tiny to bite humans, despite the fact that they can devour a lot of foliage.