Texas Caterpillars (Including Hairy and Fuzzy) With Pictures

Caterpillars come in a variety of shapes and sizes in Texas, and they’re found everywhere. Stinging, horned, smooth-bodied, hairy, and spiky caterpillars are some of the most common types of caterpillars in Texas. Green, black, or yellow caterpillars are the most common varieties. Certain markings on the body segments of Texas caterpillars may also be used to identify them.

Stinging caterpillars and non-stinging caterpillars may be distinguished in Texas if you know how to identify them. Additionally, it’s important to understand which Lone Star State furry caterpillars to avoid touching since they may cause skin sensitivity.

This is a identification guide for the different caterpillar species found in Texas. You can identify the caterpillar species by reading descriptions and pictures of slender, plump, and weird-looking caterpillars.

Table of Contents

How to Identify Caterpillars in Texas

The cylindrical, worm-like bodies of caterpillars in Texas; six legs; and numerous stumpy prolegs help to identify them. Hairy or smooth bodies, spikes, eye-like markings, and horns are all characteristics that may help you identify individual caterpillar species.

Several caterpillars also have patterns that help to differentiate them from other species. It’s difficult to identify caterpillars in Texas. The worm-like caterpillars go through multiple instars (life phases) as they grow. They may alter their looks, color, and form throughout these periods. In addition, depending on their food source, some moth or butterfly larvae change color.

The order Lepidoptera includes all caterpillars, which are crawling insects. Caterpillars are moth or butterfly larvae that feed on plant leaves for the majority of their lives. Texas caterpillars may be found in huge colonies or as individuals. As a result, it is typically vital to get rid of the insect from your ornamental bushes, trees, or crops if you want to identify the caterpillar species.

Stinging Caterpillars in Texas

Texas is home to several stinging caterpillar species. Caterpillars that are stinging have a hairy or spiky look. The weird saddleback caterpillar, hairy Texas southern flannel moth caterpillar, and hickory tiger moth caterpillar are all examples of stinging Texas caterpillars.

These caterpillars’ stings are normally no more harmful than those of a bee. Localized discomfort, redness, blisters, hives, and itching are all symptoms of a caterpillar sting. In rare cases, being stung by a stinging caterpillar in Texas may necessitate medical attention.

Types of Caterpillars in Texas (With Pictures) – Identification Guide

Color, the presence of setae (hairs), spurs, and if they sting or not are all factors that may be used to classify Texas caterpillar species. Of course, being black and spiky or green and horned are among the distinguishing characteristics of certain caterpillars.

Green Caterpillars in Texas

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes)

The black swallowtail caterpillar has black and yellow-spotted stripes and grows to be a big green caterpillar. The larva’s forked gland, which emits a horrible stench and protects predators, is an unusual trait. Before turning green, immature black swallowtail caterpillars are mostly black and white.

When they are green with black bands, Texas green, black swallowtail caterpillars may grow up to 1.5″ (40 mm) in size. Bird predators avoid black swallowtail caterpillars because they are poisonous and distasteful. The green caterpillar grows into the spectacular black swallowtail butterfly after pupation.

Texas caterpillar identification

The caterpillar of the black swallowtail is instantly identifiable. The plump segments are traversed by black bands and yellow dots, making it a bright green color.

Cecropia Moth Caterpillar (Hyalophora cecropia)

One of Texas’ unusual caterpillars is the Cecropia Moth Caterpillar (Hyalophora cecropia). Longitudinal rows of bright blue, yellow, and orange projections cover the distinctive lime-green caterpillar’s huge, ridged segments. Tiny black spikes on the tubercles can be seen in close-up pictures of this enormous green caterpillar.

The Cecropia moth caterpillars consume maple, birch, and other woody plants and shrubs during their five stages of development. The color of immature caterpillars changes from yellow-green to blue-green. They are one of the biggest caterpillars in Texas, growing to be 4.5″ to 5″ (110 to 125 mm) long when mature. The Cecropia moth caterpillar, the biggest native moth in North America, emerges from its pupa.

Texas caterpillar identification

The massive size, sea-green color, yellow or orange tubercles, and prominent segments of the cecropia moth caterpillar make it easy to spot.

Polyphemus Caterpillar (Antheraea polyphemus)

The polyphemus moth caterpillar is a huge brilliant green silkworm with crimson red dots and wispy spines. It is a giant bright green silkworm. When immature, the cylindrical-green crawling bug is yellow, then bright green with crimson specks before becoming pupation. These fat caterpillars may grow to be 3 to 4 inches (75 to 100 mm) long.

The voracious appetite of the enormous, plump silk moth caterpillar can ingest 86,000 times its own weight. The green worm morphs into a spectacular brown moth with eye spots on its hind wings after emerging from the cocoon.

Texas caterpillar identification

The crimson spiny projections on the polyphemus silk moth caterpillar’s bloated bright green body segments are what distinguish it.

Eumorpha Sphinx Caterpillar (Eumorpha fasciatus)

The diagonal yellow stripes, a row of black dots along its sides, and spiked tail distinguishes the Eumorpha Sphinx Caterpillar (Eumorpha fasciatus) from other green larvae. The most changeable caterpillar in North America, according to the experts, is the giant caterpillar. Green, multicolored black, yellow, white, and orange are some of the colors available.

In its green larval stage, the long protruding horn at the rear shrinks and develops a pointed tail end. The swollen caterpillar reverts to pink before pupating. Evening primrose family plants are often infested with caterpillars.

Texas caterpillar identification

A sausage-like caterpillar with a variety of colors, the banded sphinx caterpillar has been described. Green with black, yellow, or orange stripes, it’s a common sight. Before pupating, it becomes a brilliant orange or pink.

Carolina Sphinx Moth Caterpillar (Manduca sexta)

The ginormous bright green caterpillar has a tube-shaped body with white diagonal stripes and black dots, and is recognized by its Manduca sexta name. A reddish or black horn can also be seen on the rear end of the big green larva. The caterpillar of the Carolina sphinx moth may grow to be 2.7 inches (70 mm) long.

The tomato hornworm, which has large stripes and is green, can be mistaken with this species. The abdominal patterns distinguish the two caterpillars. The tomato hornworm has V-shaped markings on its tobacco hornworm, whereas the tobacco hornworm has a single stripe.

Texas caterpillar identification

The Carolina sphinx moth caterpillar is a cylindrical green caterpillar with distinct creamy white and black stripes that run the length of its sides.

Honey Locust Moth Caterpillar (Syssphinx bicolor)

A unique green caterpillar with a white and red longitudinal stripe down each side, the honey locust moth caterpillar (Syssphinx bicolor) is an oddity. Red horns at either end and red or silvery protrusions on its body segments are among the other features of this bright green larva. In addition, yellowish-white dots cover the green caterpillar.

A green, horned caterpillar that grows up to 1.5 inches (38 mm) is known as the honey locust moth caterpillar. Honey locust trees and Kentucky coffee trees are the only foods that this spiky-looking caterpillar consumes.

Texas caterpillar identification

The solitary horn at the tail, as well as silvery horns along its belly, are visible on the green honey locust caterpillar, which is marked with yellowish speckles.

Cabbage White Caterpillar (Pieris rapae)

The cabbage white caterpillar is a pale green larva with little black pits that grows to be about an inch long. The green caterpillar has a yellow stripe on its back and is covered in fine setae, as well as bright yellow dots along its abdomen. The head of the caterpillar changes from black to pale green in the first instar, which is one of the changes in appearance.

This pest caterpillar, like all cabbage worm species, affects plants in the cabbage family by attacking their leaves. The thin worm-like worms hide beneath cabbage, kale, mustard, and broccoli leaves and grow up to 1.1 inches (30 mm) long. The green caterpillar becomes a white butterfly after pupation.

Texas caterpillar identification

The slender green body, yellow markings, and delicate white hairs distinguish the cabbage white caterpillar.

Long-Tailed Skipper Caterpillar (Urbanus proteus)

A long cylinder-shaped green larva with a circular black head, yellow stripes down its midsection, and orange patches on its tail, the long-tailed skipper caterpillar (Urbanus proteus) is a common sight in cities. The yellow-spotted green caterpillar’s enormous head, which resembles a bloated coffee bean, is the most unusual feature.

Caterpillars of the long-tailed skipper can grow up to 49 mm in length. Plant leaves in the pea family, as well as wisteria and other decorative plants, are consumed by the destructive larvae. The green caterpillar is known as the bean leafroller because it infests legumes.

Texas caterpillar identification

The big spherical black head, longitudinal yellow stripes, spotted patterns, and orange tail end are all characteristics of the green long-tailed skipper caterpillar.

Northern Pearly-Eye Caterpillar (Enodia anthedon)

Northern Pearly-Eye Caterpillar (Enodia anthedon) A pale green butterfly larva with rows of neon-like dots along its green body, the northern pearly-eye caterpillar is a variant of the Enodia. Moreover, this green caterpillar has two pink or reddish horns on its head and a pointed tail that distinguishes it from other green caterpillars. Before pupating, northern pearly-eye caterpillars can grow up to 1.77 inches (45 mm).

In Texas, you may regularly locate these light green caterpillars eating on sedge plants and different grasses. A lovely grayish-brown butterfly common to North America emerges from the green caterpillar.

Texas caterpillar identification

The northern pearly-eye caterpillar is identified by its pale green body with two short orangey, pinkish, or reddish horns on its head. It also has rows of tiny bright yellow dots.

White-Lined Sphinx Caterpillar (Hyles lineata)

The abdominal black and yellow markings, black or orange horn, and orange legs of the white-lined sphinx caterpillar help it to be recognized as a green, cylindrical caterpillar. There are numerous variations of the lime green caterpillar. Some instars are yellow caterpillars with black stripes, while others are dark green with black and yellow spots.

The caterpillar measures up to 2.7″ (70 mm) and is long and slender with green spots or stripes. Large green caterpillars in clouds can wreak havoc on crops and ornamental plants, causing significant damage.

Texas caterpillar identification

The lime-green color, yellow, orange, and black markings on the white-lined sphinx caterpillar, as well as a prominent orange or black horn at the rear end.


Black Caterpillars in Texas

Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar (Battus philenor)

The pipevine swallowtail caterpillar has two rows of bright orange dots and a black body with fleshy dark brown spines. Due to the presence of small hairs, the dark brown or black caterpillars have a velvety look.

Two extended tubercles resemble horns at the caterpillar’s head. The black pipevine swallowtail caterpillar grows to be about 2 inches (50 mm) long. In warm places like Texas, Florida, and Arizona, the caterpillar can be bright red in addition to black.

Texas caterpillar identification

The dark brown or black body of the pipevine swallowtail caterpillar is accompanied by brilliant orange spots and slender, rubbery tubercles at the head and down its length.

Stinging Caterpillars in Texas

The fuzzy southern flannel moth is one of the most prevalent stinging caterpillars found in Texas.

Texas Southern Flannel Moth Caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis)

The Texas southern flannel moth caterpillar is a hairy, teardrop-shaped stinging bug that eats the flannel moths (Megalopyge opercularis). The fine golden-brown hairs conceal venomous spines, making the fuzzy caterpillar seem soft and charming.

The length of this typical Texas stinging caterpillar is between 1 and 1.5 inches (25 to 38 mm). The southern flannel moth caterpillar can sting severely, despite its delicate, feline look.

Even brushing against the brown, hairy venomous caterpillar may cause severe pain, swelling, and redness on your skin. An allergic response to the caterpillar’s sting may necessitate medical treatment in certain circumstances.

Texas caterpillar identification

Because of its coating of soft hairy hairs and teardrop form, the southern flannel moth caterpillar is readily recognized.

Saddleback Caterpillar (Acharia stimulea)

One of the most unusual Texas stinging caterpillars is the Saddleback Caterpillar (Acharia stimulea). The four spine-covered fleshy structures on each corner of the spiky rectangular caterpillar, as well as smaller stinging organs around its sides, make it dangerous.

Additionally, in a landscape, the brown caterpillar has a green “saddle blanket,” which is highly visible. The caterpillar grows to be 0.78″ to 1″ (20 to 25 mm) long when fully grown. One of these stinging Texas caterpillars may sting you, resulting in severe burns and inflammation. The venom-laden spines detach easily and get stuck in the skin. Itchy red welts are the most common outcome.

Texas caterpillar identification

The bright green saddleback caterpillar with a brown patch in the middle and protruding brown spiky spines on the front, hind, and sides makes it easy to identify.

Peacock Moth Caterpillar (Automeris io)

This spiky green caterpillar is covered in urticating spines and is known as the Peacock Moth Caterpillar (Automeris io). The bright green caterpillar with a crimson and white stripe on its sides is poisonous. Sharp clusters of green, venom-filled spines appear throughout each segment.

The caterpillar of the peacock moth grows to be around 2.3 inches (60 mm). The poisonous spines are vivid yellowish-green with black tips, as shown in close-up photographs of the stinging caterpillar. A burning sensation and skin swelling last up to eight hours after the Caterpillar has stung.

Texas caterpillar identification

With tufts of painful spines and red and yellowish-white stripes along its abdominal sides, the peacock moth caterpillar is light green.

Hickory Tiger Moth Caterpillar (Lophocampa caryae)

The hickory tiger moth is a white fuzzy caterpillar with black diamond markings on its back and is covered in tufts of white and black hairs. Lophocampa caryae The tufts of black hair pencils and the rounded black head are both distinguishing characteristics of this white stinging caterpillar. The caterpillar is about 1.77″ (45 mm) long and has hairy white and black skin.

The urticating hairs of the white hickory tiger moth can cause an itchy rash when handled, despite the fact that it doesn’t have venom-filled spines. Mild to severe itching and skin rashes are caused by the barbed hairs lodging into the skin.

Texas caterpillar identification

The hickory moth caterpillar has a creamy-white body with black markings because of the tufts of black and white setae covering its slender body.


Furry Caterpillars in Texas

Banded Woolly Bear (Pyrrharctia isabella)

A banded woolly bear is a fuzzy orange and black caterpillar that can be found in Texas. A bright orange band surrounds the black fuzzy caterpillar. As it nears pupation, the hairy caterpillar becomes less black and more reddish-orange. When fully grown, the hairy caterpillar is 2 inches (50 mm) long.

The black and orange woolly bear is unlike other types of hairy caterpillars in that it does not sting or bother people. Despite its delicate, cuddly appearance, the black and orange spines are rather pointy. When the banded woolly caterpillar is threatened, it rolls up into a ball.

Texas caterpillar identification

Due to its black front and rear ends and an orangey-bronze band on its middle section, the furry, banded woolly bear is easy to identify.

Salt Marsh Caterpillar (Estigmene acrea)

The salt marsh caterpillar is a slender black and brown larva with long orangey-red or black hairs. This Texas caterpillar has many fine wispy hairs growing in clumps on each segment. The salt marsh caterpillar’s rows of black or orange warts with white dots are among its other features.

The 2″ (50 mm) long brown hairy salt marsh caterpillar The color of the hairy caterpillar varies, with some being rusty brown and others being dark brownish-black. Cabbage, dandelion, pea, potato, and cotton plants are all eaten by the Texas hairy caterpillar.

Texas caterpillar identification

A brownish-orange hairy worm with orange or black markings on its body, the salt marsh caterpillar resembles a caterpillar.

Great Leopard Moth Caterpillar (Hypercompe scribonia)

The great leopard moth caterpillar is a black hairy caterpillar that can be found in Texas on occasion. The bright red bands that appear when the caterpillar rolls into a ball are a distinguishing feature of this woolly larva. The larva reaches a length of 2 inches (50 mm) when it is fully grown.

The caterpillars are not considered pests since they feed on weeds. Since their hairs are not poisonous or cause discomfort, they are generally safe to collect. The black Texas caterpillar develops into a beautiful white moth with black ringed bands on its wings.

Texas caterpillar identification

The large leopard moth caterpillar’s jet-black bristles, which cover its tube-like body densely, are one of its distinguishing features.

Striped Caterpillars in Texas

Monarch Caterpillar (Danaus plexippus)

The monarch caterpillar has black, white, and yellow stripes and is a tube-like insect. A pair of fleshy horns at either end of the striped Texas caterpillar’s stripy abdomen also exist. With a length of up to 1.7 inches (45 mm) and a diameter of 0.3 inch (8 mm), this southern caterpillar may turn into a harmless bug.

The monarch caterpillar’s toxicity is a defense mechanism against predators. Milkweed is distasteful to birds and other predators, making the big striped caterpillar a preferred food. The lovely striped caterpillar, on the other hand, is completely innocuous to humans and may be handled with impunity.

Texas caterpillar identification

The monarch caterpillar has yellow, black, and white stripes wrapped around its fleshy segments that make it easy to identify.

Passion Butterfly Caterpillar (Dione vanillae)

The Passion Butterfly Caterpillar (Dione vanillae) lives in Florida and Texas and is a spiky black and orange striped caterpillar. Because of the soft spiny black projections protruding from its orangey abdomen, the tiny, slender worm-like larva has a spiked look.

The length of the passion butterfly caterpillar is 0.5 inch (12 mm). The orange caterpillar develops into a stunning orange butterfly with attractive black and white patterns on its wings after emerging from the pupation stage.

Texas caterpillar identification

Spiny black spines on the orange body of the passion butterfly caterpillar, with black stripes, are its distinguishing features.


Unusual Caterpillars in Texas

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio glaucus)

Due to its large, realistic eye markings on its head, the eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio glaucus) is classified as an unusual Texas caterpillar.

At first glance, the little, squat green caterpillar resembles bird droppings. The thorax then becomes greener, with eyespots to scare birds. Before pupating, it turns brown. The eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillar may reach a length of 2.2 inches (55 mm).

Texas caterpillar identification

With two black, yellow, and blue eyespots in its final two instars, the eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillar is a peculiar-looking larva with a dark green color.

Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio troilus)

The thorax of the Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio Troilus) is greenish-yellow, with prominent yellow and black eyespots. It’s a one-of-a-kind caterpillar in Texas. Little blue and black markings, as well as a longitudinal line along the caterpillar’s belly, are additional identifying characteristics of this odd caterpillar. When fully grown, the Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars grow to be 2.1″ (5.5 cm) long.

Texas caterpillar identification

The spicebush swallowtail caterpillar’s large eyespots, which are pale lime-green or yellow-green in color, are its distinguishing characteristics.

Stinging Rose Moth Caterpillar (Parasa indetermina)

One of Texas’ most unusual caterpillars is the Stinging Rose Caterpillar (Parasa indetermina). Protruding spiny spikes and a purple stripe band along the back of the crawling larvae are identifying features. Some stinging rose moth caterpillars are yellow, orange, or orange and yellow in color variations.

Caterpillars that are 1 inch (25 mm) long are tiny orange and yellow spiky caterpillars. Dogwood, maple, oak, poplar, and apple trees are commonly eaten by them. The rare Texas caterpillar is a species of stinging larvae, as the common name implies.

Texas caterpillar identification

The fleshy spike-covered spines of stinging rose caterpillars have a band of thin stripes along their backs that distinguish them.

Giant Swallowtail Caterpillar (Papilio cresphontes)

The big swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio cresphontes) is a Texas caterpillar that resembles bird droppings. To protect themselves from predators, nocturnal larvae have intricate camouflage patterns. A saddle pattern appears on the brown caterpillars from time to time, while mottled hues of brown and white appear at other times.

The strange brown and white caterpillars are 2″ (50 mm) when they are first seen pupating. The distinct caterpillars grow into one of North America’s biggest butterflies, the giant swallowtail, after emerging from the pupa. Orange dog, orange puppy, and bird poop caterpillar are some of the names for the giant swallowtail caterpillar.

Texas caterpillar identification

The camouflage brown and white patterns on the enormous swallowtail caterpillar give it the appearance of bird droppings.

Monkey Slug Caterpillar (Phobetron pithecium)

The monkey slug caterpillar is one-of-a-kind, as no other Caterpillar resembles it. The hairy brown caterpillar has 18 hairy curled projections on its sides and a flattened body. The weird caterpillar appears to be a squashed hairy spider or an ancient leaf in this way. A stinging spider that grows up to 1″ (25 mm) in Texas is the little brown hairy spider.

Texas caterpillar identification

The monkey slug caterpillar resembles a spider more than a moth larva and has curving, hairy tubercles.

Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar (Citheronia regalis)

One of the most terrifying caterpillars in Texas is the Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar (Citheronia regalis). Despite its frightening look, the horned caterpillar is harmless and nice. The blue-green body of the unique Texas caterpillar includes several curled, fiery-colored fleshy horns and black spines down its belly.

The big green caterpillar is 5.5″ (140 mm) long and has a scarlet head, crimson horns, and black spines. In Texas, the big caterpillar is most often seen feasting on hickory trees.

Texas caterpillar identification

Due to its hooked, black-tipped red horns, plumb turquoise body, and small red head, the hickory horned devil is one of the easiest caterpillars in Texas to identify.

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