Types of White Caterpillars (Including Fuzzy) – Pictures and Identification

Various moth and butterfly species produce white caterpillars as larvae. White caterpillars come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with its own identifying traits. Several fuzzy white caterpillars, such as hickory tussock moths, have stinging spines and may irritate the skin if handled. Venom-filled spines are found on some caterpillars, such as white flannel moth caterpillars. However, not all stinging caterpillars are white. The silkworm, for example, has a smooth body with visible markings on its wings.

White caterpillars are members of the Lepidoptera insect order, which includes all species of caterpillars. White caterpillars go through various development phases (instars) and are smooth or hairy. The white worm-like insects may change color and look throughout these instars. Some caterpillars, for example, turn white to yellow or brown as they mature. However, in their last instars, certain caterpillar types may be white and hairy.

Caterpillars have no way of protecting themselves. As a result, they have a variety of defense mechanisms to keep predators at bay. Long pencil-like venomous spines, for example, may be seen on some white hairy caterpillars. Bitter-tasting chemicals, which are distasteful to birds, insects, and tiny creatures, may be found in other smooth white caterpillars.

The identification of frequent forms of white caterpillars is detailed in this article. The species of caterpillar you’ve discovered in a garden, woodland, or park can be identified by viewing pictures of the white larvae and reading descriptions of their identifying characteristics.

How to Identify White Caterpillars

Long, delicate-bodied worm-like insects with six legs and many stubby prolegs, white caterpillars are huge. Caterpillars’ white color makes them stand out and is an easy way to identify them. Black spots, yellowish-white or white setae (fine hairs), and protrusions on the body of a particular white caterpillar species can be used to identify it.

White Fuzzy Caterpillars

Smooth-bodied caterpillars are more rare than fuzzy white caterpillars, which are easier to see. The white hairs on hickory moth caterpillars, for instance, have a row of black hairy tufts. The caterpillars are covered in venom-filled spines, despite their appearance as white and fluffy. Woolly bears, fall webworms, and tiger moth caterpillars are some of the other types of white fuzzy larvae.

Are White Caterpillars Venomous?

White caterpillars with venom-filled spines are found in certain species. Nonetheless, the flannel moth caterpillars are the most well-known poisonous white caterpillars. Hollow hairs linked to poison sacs are found on these hairy white caterpillars. Toxins that feel like a bee’s sting are released when the sharp stinging hairs pierce the skin.

The hickory tussock moth caterpillar is not a venomous caterpillar, contrary to popular belief. Its tufts of white and black hairs, on the other hand, may puncture the skin and cause allergy symptoms.

The larvae, on the other hand, are poisonous to birds and are therefore unappetizing. The caterpillar’s spines do not contain poison. White caterpillars are poisonous (some people incorrectly label them venomous). Furry white caterpillars, on the other hand, are known to have stinging setae, so it’s best not to touch them.

Types of White Caterpillars

Let’s take a closer look at various types of white caterpillars, some with fuzzy white bodies and others with smooth white bodies and distinguishing patterns.

Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar (Lophocampa caryae)

The hickory tussock moth caterpillar features white and black tufts of hairs that sting. On the back of the caterpillar’s white body, the distinct black hairy clumps create a black stripe. The sides are also covered in long black pencil hairs. The hickory tussock caterpillar is distinguished by its black head and black marks down its sides, in addition to its hairy, white and black body. The length of this black and white hickory tussock moth is up to 1.77 inches (45 mm).

The caterpillar of the hickory tussock moth is non-venomous. The caterpillar, on the other hand, possesses poisonous barbs that pierce your skin and cause allergy symptoms and discomfort in certain individuals. Exposure to a hickory tussock moth caterpillar, according to poison centers, may cause minor to severe skin rashes and inflammation.

The caterpillar transforms into a stunning orange-brown moth with white dots on its wings, becoming a white hickory tussock moth. The hairy, pale brown body and furry, tan-colored head of this attractive moth make it irresistible. Hickory, walnut, oak, maple, birch, and willow trees are all infected with the hairy white caterpillar.

White caterpillar identification

The black and white hairs that cover the body of the hickory tussock moth caterpillar, as well as the black dots on its sides, are clues that it is this caterpillar.

Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar (Halysidota harrisii)

The sycamore tussock moth caterpillar has two unusual spiky pairs on each end. It is a small to medium hairy yellowish-white caterpillar. Two pairs of white pencil hairs and two pairs of orange pencil hairs run down the caterpillar’s body, which are identifying features.

The caterpillar of the white fuzzy sycamore tussock moth is 1.4 inches (35 mm) long. Defoliating Sycamore Trees is the typical diet of these white or pale yellow tussock moth species. Despite the fact that this white caterpillar variety is non-stinging, handling it may cause skin irritations. The caterpillars transform into pale blue-winged moths..

White caterpillar identification

The hairy white body, as well as two long tufts of orange and white hairs at each end, distinguish the sycamore tussock moth caterpillar.

American Dagger Moth Caterpillars (Acronicta americana)

The hairy, light yellowish-white caterpillar with many pencil-like tufts of black hairs is the American dagger moth caterpillar. The caterpillar has a lustrous black head and two greenish stripes along its back. It is covered in white hairs. Bugs up to 2 inches (50 mm) long emerge in a pale yellow or white color.

The larva of the white American dagger moth is harmless. The fine setae on this species are not venom-filled spines, despite the fact that they will cause a lot of skin irritation. In deciduous forests and woodlands, you may observe this native caterpillar chewing through the leaves.

White caterpillar identification

The fine white hairs that cover the American dagger moth caterpillar, two pairs of long black tufts, and one more prominent black tuft at the caterpillar’s tail end identify it.

Fall Webworm (Hyphantria cunea)

Fall webworms are hairy white or pale-yellow caterpillars that spin tent-like webs where they live. They can do a lot of damage to shrubs and trees. Long white setae protrude from yellowish tufts on a dark body to identify the fall webworm. Depending on the climate, fall webworms may have bright red or dark glossy black heads.

The webworm’s length is limited to 1.4″ (35 mm). Ornamental shrubs and trees can be defoliated by destructive pests. These hairy whitish caterpillars become brilliant white moths with black speckled patterns on their forewings after pupation.

White caterpillar identification

The long, wispy white hairs, two rows of black markings on its back, and a rounded black head differentiate the white fall webworm.

Virginian Tiger Moth Caterpillar (Spilosoma virginica)

The Virginian tiger moth larva ranges in color from pure white to dark brown, with yellow or orange hairs mixed in. Rusty brown or pale yellow is also possible colors for the furry caterpillar. The caterpillar grows up to 1.77″ (45 mm) long and is also known as the yellow woolly bear.

The hairy caterpillar becomes a stunning white moth with a line of distinct black dots on its body as it changes from pale to dark brown or white. In late summer, the destructive larvae skeletonize leaves.

White caterpillar identification

The spiky appearance of the Virginian tiger moth caterpillar, which includes tufts of creamy-white or tan-white hairs, distinguishes it. The hairy caterpillars are always a single color, despite their variation in coloring.

Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar (Apatelodes torrefacta)

The spotted apatelodes is the bright yellow moth of an unusual gray moth, which starts as a hairy white caterpillar. Brilliant white caterpillars become creamier white and then yellow as they mature. The body of the woolly white caterpillar is covered in black spurs, while the head contains a clump of grayish-black spurs.

Against green foliage, the white hairy caterpillar is difficult to overlook. On maples, ash, and oak trees, you may often find these non-stinging caterpillars. As they progress from white to brilliant yellow, expect the fuzzy white caterpillars to grow between 0.78″ and 1.77″ (20 and 45 mm) in length.

White caterpillar identification

The hairy caterpillar has long black tufts on its back and black markings along its sides, and the spotted apatelodes moth caterpillar is covered in fuzzy white hairs.

White-Marked Tussock Furry Horned Caterpillar (Orgyia leucostigma)

One of the most distinctive furry caterpillars you’ll see is the white-marked tussock-horned caterpillar. The large white tufts of hair, black hair pencils, red head, and black and yellow stripes on the caterpillars distinguish them. The caterpillars grow to be 1 inch to 1.5 inches (25 to 38 mm) long and have a strange appearance.

The typical Florida caterpillar is the white-marked tussock hairy larva. The spiky caterpillar eats some deciduous and coniferous trees. Hickory, larch, birch, black locust, willow, and elm trees may all be defoliated by the larvae. On numerous fruit trees, it may also damage leaves.

White caterpillar identification

Because of its brilliant colors, four fluffy white tufts on the back, and pencil hairs surrounding its body, the white-marked tussock moth caterpillar is easily identified.

Domestic Silk Moth Caterpillar (Bombyx mori)

The domestic silk moth caterpillar is a white silkworm that feeds on mulberry leaves, and its body is smooth. A tiny horn on the back, a single black mark on each segment, and yellowish-white feet distinguish the white, smooth-bodied caterpillars. The 1.5-inch (40 mm) long white worm-shaped insects thrive. The white caterpillars, sometimes known as mulberry silkworms, are well-known for their silk production. High-quality raw silk is extracted from their cocoons.

White caterpillar identification

The white, slender body, yellowish horn at the rear end, three pairs of striped front legs, and a row of black dots down each side characterize the domestic silkworm.

Catalpa Sphinx Caterpillar (Ceratomia catalpa)

The catalpa sphinx moth caterpillar has a pale yellow and black head with three rows of black dots, a prominent black tail horn, and a smooth white body with black dots. The caterpillars reaches its final instar, which is 3 inches (75 mm) long and has a distinctive creamy-white color.

Feeding on the leaves of catalpa trees, white grubs are frequently found. These are the only white caterpillars you’ll find on catalpa trees, and they’re also known as the Catawba worm. With a fat, hairy body and triangular wings, this smooth white caterpillar turns into a pale brown sphinx moth.

White caterpillar identification

A white body, black marks, and a pointed horn characterize the catalpa sphinx moth caterpillars. The black dots join to form black stripes as the white caterpillars grow, giving the caterpillar a striped appearance. It is striped in black and pale-yellow.

Virginia Ctenucha Caterpillar (Ctenucha virginica)

The Virginia ctenucha is a red-headed fuzzy caterpillar with white and yellow hairs. It has a white appearance due to its thick, creamy-white tufts of hairs covering its black body. A black and red glossy head, white and yellowish tufts of bristles, and dark red prolegs are among the fuzzy caterpillar’s other features.

The caterpillars grow to be 0.8 inches (20 mm) long when fully developed. These hairy caterpillars can be found on a variety of grasses and iris plants, where they feed. Caterpillars with thick hair are easy to identify. The bristly white and yellow caterpillars. The tiny white caterpillars become black caterpillars as they mature.

White caterpillar identification

As it approaches the pupal stage, the Virginia ctenucha, a small hairy white caterpillar, turns black.

Hieroglyphic Moth Caterpillar (Diphthera festiva)

The caterpillar’s plump body is covered in black and gray streaks, with a reddish head. The white and black legs, as well as an orange-red head, distinguish the stunning, black-striped white caterpillar. Caterpillars can grow up to 1.77 inches (45 mm) in length.

These caterpillars may wreak havoc on your crops if they are not controlled. The larvae feed on sweet potato, pecan, and soybean leaves and may be found throughout Florida and other southern states.

White caterpillar identification

The cream-colored body and grayish-black bands that surround the cylindrical body distinguish the hieroglyphic moth caterpillar.

Rubber Tree Caterpillar (Lymire edwardsii)

The rubber tree larva has a spiky look with red and white head, as well as a yellowish-white or light-yellow coloration. The spines on the hairy caterpillar become a richer yellow as it develops. Furthermore, the caterpillar has orangey tufts and a crimson red and white head.

These little, non-venomous white caterpillars are hairy. Rubber tree caterpillars are widespread on the Ficus genus, as their name implies. Ficus leaf margins are chewed by the hungry fuzzy bugs, resulting in holes. These hairy, yellowish-white caterpillars are common in Florida.

White caterpillar identification

The hairy white or yellow caterpillar transforms into the Edwards’ wasp moth, which is recognized as a rubber tree caterpillar.

Dogwood Sawfly Caterpillar (Macremphytus testaceus)

The dogwood sawfly caterpillar has a brilliant white fluffy body and yellow legs. It has a white fluffy body with yellow legs. Curled up beneath dogwood leaves are the fuzzy-looking white larvae. The bugs’ heads become yellowish as they grow more translucent.

Caterpillars with a length of 0.8 inch (20 mm) live in small white groups. These worm-like caterpillars can only be found on dogwood shrubs and trees, making them easy to identify. In mid- to late-summer, skeletonizing leaves, the white bugs are active. Sawflies emerge the next spring after the creamy-white caterpillars overwinter in rotting wood.

White caterpillar identification

In its second instar, the white dogwood sawfly caterpillar’s waxy coating is identified. The caterpillar becomes yellow and black as it matures.

Figwort Sawfly Caterpillar (Tenthredo scrophulariae)

The figwort sawfly caterpillar is a huge, stout white caterpillar with black markings that grows to 1.18″ (30 mm) in length. A grayish-black head and a somewhat tapered tail end distinguish the plump, sausage-like white larva. Around late summer and early autumn, the white caterpillars feed on figwort plants.

Little wasp-like sawflies black with yellow streaks emerge from these enormous white and black-dotted caterpillars. The slender waist, which is characteristic of wasp species, is lacking in figwort sawflies and wasps.

White caterpillar identification

A fat, dusty-white larva with black markings and a folded look, the figwort sawfly caterpillar is recognized as such.

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