Types of Moth Caterpillars With Their Picture – Identification Guide

Caterpillars grow into moths after pupation, and their size and color change throughout their life cycle. Caterpillars with green, black, yellow, or striped skin may be discovered. Some of the most unusual moth caterpillars have spiky tufts of hair, intricate patterns, or a fuzzy appearance.

The adult moths and moth caterpillars might look nothing alike. Knowing the kind of moth that a caterpillar becomes can help you recognize it. The identification of typical kinds of moth caterpillars is the subject of this article. Images and information on numerous moth caterpillar species, as well as their behavior and identifying traits, will help you identify them. These crawling, worm-like creatures are difficult to recognize.

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Moth Caterpillar Identification

The worm-like bodies of moth caterpillars, their colors, distinct patterns, the presence of hairs, their habitat, and the plants they consume are some of their distinguishing characteristics. Moreover, moth caterpillars have prolegs (stumpy false legs) that distinguishes them from other caterpillars.

A moth caterpillar’s appearance after pupation may be very different from that of an adult moth. The tussock moth caterpillar, for example, has black and yellow body with a distinctive orangey-red head. It has tufts of white hairs on its unusual white-marked body. This caterpillar, on the other hand, becomes a plain grayish-brown hairy moth.

Types of Moth Caterpillars (With Pictures) – Identification Guide

The photographs of some of the most prevalent moth caterpillars are shown below.

White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar (Orgyia leucostigma)

A furry yellow and black caterpillar with white dots on its back. It has a length of 1.3 inches (35 mm). The crimson head and toothbrush-like strands of yellowish-white hairs on a yellow and black body distinguish the spiny moth caterpillar. The fuzzy moth caterpillar is found on a variety of deciduous and coniferous trees, where it eats.

This once colorful hairy caterpillar turns into a gray, fuzzy moth with black lines and a white mark on the forewing after emerging from the pupal stages. The moth’s distinctive feathery antennae are a defining characteristic. A frequent caterpillar in Florida is the white-marked tussock moth.

Moth caterpillar identification

A creamy yellow hair tuft, black pencil hairs, and a yellow and black body distinguish the white-marked tussock moth caterpillar.

Isabella Tiger Moth Caterpillar (Pyrrharctia isabella)

The Isabella tiger moth caterpillar is a hairy, black and orange moth caterpillar that looks like a woolly bear with black and orange or brown hairs. The larva of the spiky moth is 2.3 inches (60 mm) long. The banded caterpillar is covered in spines, but it isn’t dangerous; it doesn’t sting or bite.

The caterpillar now resembles a gorgeous orange moth with a line of black dots on its orange body, and has orange-yellow wings with black dots. The black antennae and markings on the orange moth’s wings are also black.

Moth caterpillar identification

The wide bronze-brown band around the midsection of the Isabella tiger moth caterpillar, as well as its shaggy black head and tail ends, are instantly distinguishable.

Ruby Tiger Moth Caterpillar (Phragmatobia fuliginosa)

The orangey-brown body and blackish-brown head of the ruby tiger moth caterpillar are adorned with orangey-brown hairs. A yellow stripe down the back and identifiable tufts of foxy-red stinging hairs and spines distinguish the fuzzy moth larva. Caterpillars grow to be 1.2 inches (30 mm) long on Ruby tiger moths.

The ruby tiger moth is a gorgeous crimson-winged insect with black markings on its head and reddish-pink wings. Dark reddish-brown forewings and brilliant carmine hindwings with black dots distinguish this little fuzzy pinkish-red moth.

Moth caterpillar identification

A brown body with golden brown spiny tufts covers the ruby tiger moth caterpillar, which has a slender body.

Rosy Maple Moth Caterpillar (Dryocampa rubicunda)

The rosy maple moth caterpillar has a pair of black antennae and rows of spiny black dots along its abdomen. It is a bright green caterpillar with black dots and two black horns protruding from its head. As it grows and develops green, light white, or black stripes down its body, the plump green moth larva becomes darker. Before entering the pupal stage, the fat green moth caterpillar grows to be around 2″ (50 mm).

The bright yellow and pink wings of the lovely fluffy rosy maple moth are simple to identify. The fuzzy pink antennae and legs, as well as the dusty yellow patches on the bright pink and yellow moth’s wings, distinguish it.

Moth caterpillar identification

The rows of brilliant, felty spines down the caterpillar’s belly, brown bulbous head, and red dots at the rear end are all identifying characteristics of the rosy maple moth caterpillar.

Imperial Moth Caterpillar (Eacles imperialis)

The massive imperial moth caterpillar is a huge, dark brown worm-like bug with a row of little, wispy filaments along its sides. It has a dark brown body covered in spines and pale yellow dots. The head of the brown moth caterpillar is adorned with sharp spines, while the back is adorned with smaller spines. The massive brown caterpillar is 5.5 inches (100 mm) long.

When in its caterpillar stage, the imperial moth is yellow and brown, with autumn leaves appearing. During the autumn, the enormous moth resembles leaves. It has a yellow body and irregular reddish-brown blotches on its wings. Imperial moths may be dark brown and orange in color.

Moth caterpillar identification

The imperial moth caterpillar has thin, wispy hairs that cover its body and are dark brown with white or yellowish-green dots down its sides.

Cecropia Moth Caterpillar

The Cecropia moth larva is a large green caterpillar with yellow and blue nodules. The fat caterpillar with bursting segments has yellow and blue tubercles along its body, which is lime green in color. Large orange spherical tubercles also grow near its head, as well as other orange spiny tubercles.

This 4.5–4.7 inch (110–120 mm) long caterpillar has a enormous, threatening appearance but is completely innocuous. Beech, birch, cherry, dogwood, elm, poplar, willow, and oak leaves are all eaten by the fat moth caterpillar.

The cecropia moth, which is the biggest moth in North America, has stunning brown, beige, and orange patterns on its wings after it pupates. The huge wings of the ginormous brown moth feature stunning orange, beige, brown, and black designs.

Moth caterpillar identification

In hardwood, deciduous woodlands, the cecropia moth caterpillar is one of the largest caterpillars. The caterpillar has black-spined tubercles of different colors on its large, pale green body.

Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar (Deilephila elpenor)

The elephant hawk moth caterpillar has an elephant-like appearance with a gray-brown body and black markings. With eyespots near its head and a backward curving “horn” at the back, the speckled brown moth caterpillar has a brownish-gray body. The length of fully developed moth larvae is up to 3 inches (75 mm).

During the larval stage, the appealing elephant hawk moth has pink and brownish wings and a body. The wing bands of the colorful fuzzy olive-brown moths are deep pale to light pink, and the back is dotted with bright pink.

Moth caterpillar identification

The speckled-brown body of the elephant hawk moth caterpillar, as well as rows of black spots down its length and on its head, distinguish it.

Tobacco Hawk Moth Caterpillar (Manduca sexta)

The big green moth caterpillar has diagonal white stripes on its sides to distinguish it. It’s a kind of huge green moth caterpillar with a horn at the end. The green larvae have little horn-like projections at the end of the final abdominal segment, in addition to the diagonal stripes.

The length of these moth caterpillars ranges from 3.1 to 80 mm. A tomato hornworm morphs into a tobacco hawk moth caterpillar. The tomato hornworm is distinguished by its V-shaped markings rather than diagonal white stripes, which distinguishes it from the other caterpillar species.

The hawk moth caterpillar has yellow markings on its body after it has pupated. It is a brownish-gray moth with mottled brown, beige, and white patterns on its wings. Two rows of yellowish-orange spots can be seen on the furry moth’s body. The Carolina sphinx moth is another name for the Manduca sexta moth.

Moth caterpillar identification

The distinctive diagonal white stripes, tiny black and white eye markings, six small white legs, and a curving tail horn are all features that distinguish the tobacco hornworm caterpillar.

Funerary Dagger Moth Caterpillar (Acronicta funeralis)

The funerary dagger moth larva is a striking black caterpillar with big bright yellow patterns that is also known as the paddle caterpillar. The slender paddle-like protrusions from this black moth caterpillar’s jet-black body are an unusual feature. The larva of the yellow and black moth may grow to be 1.37 inches (35 mm) long.

Apple, alder, birch, cottonwood, elm, hickory, and maple trees are all eaten by the funerary dagger moth. It is gray and black with hairy head. The caterpillars become gray and black moths with faint, dark-gray watermark-like designs on their wings after pupation.

Moth caterpillar identification

The caterpillars of the funerary dagger have distinctive yellow borders with a dark black line running through them. Long black paddle spines down its black body are the most prominent feature of the black caterpillar.

Regal Moth (Royal Walnut Moth) Caterpillar (Citheronia regalis)

With its blue-green body and orange and black horns, the regal moth caterpillar has a formidable appearance. The head of the fat, turquoise-green moth caterpillar is orangey-red, and it features fiery-colored, black-tipped arched horns. The royal walnut moth caterpillar may reach a length of 6 inches (150 mm) when fully developed.

The green caterpillar is innocuous, and the stunning regal moth has orange and gray wings with light markings. However, because it is the biggest and most stunning moth you can imagine, it becomes one of the biggest caterpillars you may encounter. The dark orange veins of the orange and gray-brown moth run along the wings in rows. To identify this regal moth, there are also white-yellowish patches on the wings.

Moth caterpillar identification

The pale green, bloated segments, black fleshy spines along the body, and a crown of jagged red and black horns distinguish Hickory horned devil caterpillars from other caterpillars.

Southern Flannel Moth Caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis)

The southern flannel moth caterpillar sports light brown hairs and is one of the softest types of hairy caterpillars. From golden brown to dark gray, the hairy caterpillar has a diverse color scheme. The disheveled-looking body will usually have an orange stripe running down it.

The caterpillars of the puss moth may grow up to 1 inch (25 mm). Italian asp, woolly slug, puss mother, or asp caterpillar are some other names for the southern flannel moth. Caterpillars have hairy features, such as a little Persian pussy cat or snake-like singing setae, which are referred to by these names.

The fuzzy black feet and white edges of the fluffy southern flannel moth give it a hairy appearance. Its antennae are also white, comb-like structures.

Moth caterpillar identification

The hairy brown or orangey cloak masking the larva’s worm-like body makes the southern flannel moth caterpillar stand out.

Emperor Moth Caterpillar (Saturnia pavonia)

The emperor moth caterpillar has yellow and black dots on its enormous green body, with hairy tufts protruding from black tubercles across a broad green body. As they grow up, the juvenile moth caterpillars turn green and orange. The adult green moth caterpillars eventually reach a length of 2.4″ (60 mm) when they are fully developed.

The green caterpillar develops into a magnificent brown and bright orange moth with feathered antennae that is active throughout the day. The wings of the medium-sized, fuzzy emperor moth are covered in large, eye-like spots. The eye-catching hindwings feature brilliant orange and brown patterns, while the forewings are brown with dull red patterns.

Moth caterpillar identification

The dark green body of the emperor moth caterpillar is speckled with spiky yellow and black specks throughout each segment. Thick black bands on a lime green body distinguish some varieties of these green moth caterpillars.

Luna moth caterpillar (Actias luna)

The luna moth caterpillar has a green ridged body with six brown front legs and rows of red spiny bumps. It is distinguished by its oval brown head. The exceptionally huge four pairs of prolegs are also distinctive of this lime-green, almost clear moth larva. The plump green moth caterpillar gets a reddish hue just before pupation.

The luna moth caterpillar resembles a leaf with its tail-like hindwings. It then becomes one of the most stunning green moths with long tails, as it ages. Each long-tailed moth has one unusual eyespot on its light green wings. Two small comb-like antennae belong to the big green moth.

Moth caterpillar identification

The orange or red dots down the back and sides of the beautiful green luna moth caterpillar contrast with its green body and brown head, making it easy to identify.

Mullein Moth Caterpillar (Cucullia verbasci)

The huge worm-like white or pale green moth caterpillar has yellow and black dots on its body, which distinguishes it from the ordinary mullein moth caterpillar. Yellow blotches with irregular black dots make up the mullein moth larva markings. Fine setae can also be found on the black and white caterpillar’s posterior. The 2″ (50 mm) moth caterpillar is easily identified.

The caterpillar develops into a striped brown moth with tan and light brown stripes down its wings, having dark patterns down its wings. The brown mullein moth’s long slender antennae are another identifying feature. The most noticeable of butterfly bush caterpillars, on the other hand, are typically the brightly-colored kinds.

Moth caterpillar identification

The white or light green body of the mullein moth caterpillar is covered in yellow, black-spotted patches, which distinguish it.

Brown-Tail Moth Caterpillar (Euproctis chrysorrhoea)

The brown-tail moth caterpillar has rows of white markings and stinging pencil hairs on its body, making it a reddish-brown caterpillar. Brown-tail moth larvae feed on birch trees, ash, oak, maples, and a variety of fruit trees and can reach up to 1.5″ (38 mm) in length


The brown hairy caterpillars turn stunning fuzzy white moths after emerging from the cocoon, which is hairy white with a brownish furry tail. The white moths have two comb antennae, hairy wings, and a fuzzy white head, as well as a visible brown tail and two comb antennae.

Diamondback Moth Caterpillar (Plutella xylostella)

The diamondback moth caterpillar has a dark head and small black hairs on its body, making it appear worm-like. A dark-colored greenish-brown head, irregular whitish dots, and faint yellow bands between the segments are among the other features of this green caterpillar. The little green moth can reach a length of 0.4 inch (11 mm).

The diamondback moth emerges as a type of leaf-mining larva and eats the leaves of various tree and shrub species, destroying their lifecycle in a matter of months. The caterpillar becomes a slender grayish-brown flying insect with long pointed antennae when it turns into a moth. A lightly colored band runs along the moth’s wingtips, which upturns slightly.

Moth caterpillar identification

The greenish body, V-shaped rear end, and tiny black hairs growing out of white patches distinguish the diamondback moth caterpillar.

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar (Tyria jacobaeae)

The cinnabar moth caterpillar has fine hairs on its body and yellow and black stripes on its face. Black and white spines cover the stripy body sparsely. The vivid contrast between its bright colors signals predators to keep away from this poisonous insect. The caterpillar of the cinnabar moth grows to be 1.2 inches (30 mm).

The gorgeous cinnabar moth flutters about gardens all day, with brilliant red and black wings. A black forewing with a red band and two large crimson blotches decorates each moth’s forewing. It has crimson hindwings with a black border. The moth’s body is jet-black in color.

Moth caterpillar identification

Due to its immediately recognized black and yellow striped segments, the cinnabar moth caterpillar is simple to identify.

Io Moth Caterpillar (Automeris io)

If their venom enters your skin, the green spikes of the Io moth caterpillar are very unpleasant. With thin black stinging hairs, they emerge from their eggs rusty-brown in color. The stinging needle-like green tufts that appear like pine needles form as the venomous caterpillars progressively turn green.

Io moth caterpillar spines include chemicals that cause a lot of skin inflammation, which is why they’re poisonous. If the venom gets into your skin, the urticating spines may give you a painful “bite.” Even a minor touch from these caterpillars can cause severe discomfort that lasts for an hour or more.

The red and white stripes that run the length of this species’ side may help you identify it. All over its body, green spikes protrude. On the central segments of its four pairs of prolegs, there are even tiny spikes.

Male spiky green caterpillars become magnificent orange or yellow moths with large eye-like markings on the hind wings after metamorphosis. The brown wings of female Io moths An eyespot and circular patterns on each hind wing distinguish both types of Io moth. With a wingspan of 2.5″ to 3.5″ (6 – 9 cm), the colorful Io moths have a plump furry body. The fuzzy moths’ large blue-black eyespots are a defense mechanism.

Moth caterpillar identification

The distinctive tufts of stinging green spines that cover the fat, lime-green body with crimson and white stripes running down its sides can be used to identify the Io moth caterpillar.

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