Caterpillars are larvae of butterflies and moths in the Lepidoptera family, the second largest insect groups in the world. There are different kinds of caterpillars with different sizes and colors. Some of them are hairy while some others have no hair. Some of them cause serious damage while some others are quite harmless. Below are some of the most popular ones.
Black and Yellow Woolly Bear Caterpillars
This is one of the most common kinds of caterpillars with hairy body. When they leave the larvae stage, they eventually become tiger moths. The black banded caterpillar has brown or orange centers but black at each end of the body. The level of moisture it gets normally determines its length. Virginia tiger moth is the adult of the woolly bear caterpillar.
The yellow woolly caterpillar has more hairs than its black counterparts. They are usually harmless and feed on green plants and grasses. They are more commonly found on fruit trees, in gardens, or on green bean plants. Yellow woolly caterpillars transform into Virginia tiger moths at the adult stage. The larvae of giant leopard moths are very similar to yellow woolly caterpillars. They are harmless and usually feed on willows, cherries, dandelion, plantains, and violets.
These kinds of caterpillars feed on leaves and build nests on shrubs and deciduous trees. Tent moth is the adult of these kinds of caterpillars. A western tent caterpillar eats hardwood trees like the bitterbush, cottonwoods, mountain mahogany, and willow. They have orange, black or blue bodies with black or blue head. On the other hand, an eastern tent caterpillar is black with yellow and brown lines by the sides. They usually build their nests at the beginning of the spring in the forks of tree branches. They build their tents on tree branches, including cherry, crabapple, and pear. A forest tent caterpillar has light blue stripes by the sides and marks shaped like footprints down its backs. A forest tent caterpillar feed on trees that shed their leaves in fall.
Gypsy moth caterpillars are sometimes mistaken for tent caterpillars because of their resemblance. These kinds of caterpillars usually feed on evergreens and trees that shed their leaves. They have red spots (six pairs) and blue spots (five pairs) on their backs which causes damages to hardwood trees. Gypsy caterpillars are usually not harmful, but they can irritate the skin and cause rashes on people who are sensitive to these kinds of caterpillars.
These kinds of caterpillars have produces burning rashes and very painful stings when their hairs are touched. One of these kinds of caterpillars is known as the puss caterpillar, which has spines that are linked to poison sacs under its hair. They feed on trees and shrubs with broad leaves, including maple, oak, sycamore, apple, and elm.
Bag shelter caterpillar is one of the most poisonous of all kinds of caterpillars. They are part of the processionary family of caterpillars. People should not touch this kind of caterpillar because their poisonous bristles which are connected to venom glands can cause both internal and external bleeding when touched. Their venom is powerful enough to cause death as a result of bleeding.