Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
Most widely used name for this species
The name of the animal in science
The place where something is found
What kind of foods the animal eats
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
|Number Of Species:|
The total number of recorded species
The average time the animal lives for
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
|Yellow, Black, Orange, Red, Green, Blue, White. Brown|
The protective layer of the animal
The preferred food of this animal
The specific area where the animal lives
|Quiet forests and pastures|
|Average Litter Size:|
The average number of babies born at once
The food that the animal gains energy from
|Leaves, Plants, Flowers|
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
|Birds, Wasps, Mammals|
Characteristics unique to this animal
|Long body shape and fleshy horns|
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.
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, if 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 its 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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First Published: 14th November 2008, Last Updated: 8th November 2019
1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 14 Nov 2008]
2. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
3. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 14 Nov 2008]
4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2009]
5. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 14 Nov 2008]