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Caterpillar


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A large and hairy caterpillar, Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre
Caterpillar
Caterpillar
A caterpillar in a flower
Caterpillar
The caterpillar is the larvae (the baby) of both a butterfly and a moth. After around 2-3 weeks, the caterpillar builds itself into a cocoon where it remains a pupa for a further 2 weeks. The caterpillar then emerges having grown wings.

The moth caterpillar is well known for being a pest particularly in the fabric industry. One species of caterpillar has destroyed reams of silk in the far east, known in China as a silk worm.

Generally, most species of caterpillar are considered to be agricultural pests as they can munch their ways through fields of crops, often leaving enormous holes which result in unhealthy or inedible plants.

Some species of caterpillar are also highly poisonous, particularly those species that live in the tropical rain forests. Other species are only poisonous in their caterpillar form, meaning when they turn into a moth or butterfly, they no longer have venom.

There are more than 20,000 different species of known caterpillar found all around the world and it is estimated that there are many more that are undiscovered as new species of butterflies and moths are regularly found in regions where there is little, of any, human presence.

Caterpillars difference in size, colour and appearance depending on their species. Some caterpillars are very brightly coloured where other caterpillar species are quite dull-looking in comparison. Some species of caterpillars are very hairy, where others are very smooth. The main aim of the appearance of the caterpillar is to intimidate it's predators and to deter them from eating it.

The caterpillar, like the butterfly, is a herbivorous animal but the diets of the caterpillar and the butterfly are very different. Butterflies use their long straw-like tongues to drink the nectar out of flowers, which is an adaptation that occurs in the process where the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Caterpillars mainly feed on leaves, plants and flowering plants and big holes can often be found in leaves indicating the presence of a caterpillar.

A number of species of caterpillar are known to be carnivorous and eat a variety of insects that pass them. One caterpillar species found in Hawaii, hooks itself onto a leaf where it stands very straight trying to catching passing bugs.

Due to their small size and worm-like shape, caterpillars are preyed upon by numerous different species of animal but the main predators of the caterpillar are birds and large insects such as wasps. Caterpillars are also commonly preyed upon by small mammals and reptiles.


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Caterpillar Facts

Kingdom:
Five groups that classify all living things...
Animalia
Phylum:
A group of animals within the animal kingdom...
Arthropoda
Class:
A group of animals within a pylum...
Insecta
Order:
A group of animals within a class...
Lepidoptera
Common Name:
Most widely used name for the species...
Caterpillar
Scientific Name:
Comprised of the genus followed by the species...
Larva
Found:Worldwide
Diet:
What kind of foods the animal eats...
Herbivore
Size:
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is...
30-60mm (1-2in)
Number of Species:
The total number of recorded species...
21,000
Average Lifespan:3 weeks
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct...
Least Concern
Colour:
The colour of the animal's coat or markings...
Yellow, Black, Orange, Red, Green, Blue, White. Brown
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal...
Hair
Favourite Food:Leaves
Habitat:
The specific area where the animal lives...
Quiet forests and pastures
Average Litter Size:
The average number of babies born at once...
0
Main Prey:
The food that the animal gains energy from...
Leaves, Plants, Flowers
Predators:
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal...
Birds, Wasps, Mammals
Special Features:Long body shape and fleshy horns

Related Animals

ButterflyButterfly
There are thought to be up 20,000 species!
MothMoth
There are 250,000 different species!