Colorado is a beautiful state and home to many types of insects. Depending on what parts of Colorado you are in, you may encounter some unique species of caterpillars! Caterpillars are a type of insect that transform into a butterfly or moth. Like many insects, some can be poisonous or can cause irritation to the skin if touched. This insect comes in various colors and is known for eating as much as they can before they are ready to transform. The following article will list over 50 types of caterpillars seen in Colorado and which ones you should stay away from!
The Lo caterpillar are highly venomous and have a painful sting. If you come in contact with this creature, use scotch tape to remove its tiny spines from your skin and ice the affected area. Take antihistamines and pain relievers to help with symptoms. The Lo caterpillar is light green, with red and white stripes down its sides. The remarkable insect turns into the Lo moth.
The Puss caterpillar are venomous insects that can grow up to 1 inch long. They are covered with soft, brown, fur like hair, giving them a wool like appearance. The Puss caterpillars spines are filled with toxins that can cause severe irritation to the skin. The population of this species is determined by food availability and weather. Once the Puss caterpillar builds its cocoon, it will break free 2 weeks later turning into the Flannel moth.
3. Spiny Elm
The Spiny Elm caterpillar are seen on elm trees and have bright red or orange dots on its back covered with black spikes. The white bristles around its spines contain poison. If your dog seems interested in this insect, make sure they do not consume these creatures. The Spiny Elm caterpillar turns into the Cloak butterfly.
4. Hickory Tussock Moth
The Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar has fuzzy white hair with black spots. This caterpillar should only be observed and not touched because their hair contains a toxin that can cause severe allergic reactions. Their hair will get stuck in your skin, causing redness and a slight burning sensation. Their cocoons can also cause skin irritation.
5. Western Tent Moth
The Western Tent Moth Caterpillar is black with red and yellow spots and stripes. This insect got its name because of the tent-like pattern on its back. You can see them in wooded areas feeding on grass, leaves, and other vegetation. Although this caterpillar is not poisonous, it can produce a substance that causes the skin to become irritated.
The Slug is one of the most common type of caterpillars found in ash and deciduous trees throughout Colorado. If these tiny creatures are touched or frightened, it will raise its head and spread its tail. They will then spray a yellow foul liquid that causes irritation of the skin, but is not poisonous.
The Monarch caterpillar is a plump insect with black, white, and yellow stripes. This caterpillar is toxic because of the number of milkweed plants they eat. If you are looking for this beautiful creature, they hang out wherever milkweed is found.
9. Curve-line Owlet
10. Anise Swallowtail Butterfly Cat
11. Question Mark
The cabbageworm caterpillar is light green and has small yellow dots on its side. The caterpillar hosts plants are cabbage, kale, broccoli, and chard. The cabbageworm is not native to North America. They were shipped here from Europe in a crate full of cabbage! This insect can be a nuisance because of its ability to destroy a large number of crops.
13. Yellow-haired Dagger Moth
15. Salt Marsh Moth
18. Cabbage Looper
19. Cloudless Sulphur
20. Woolly Bear
The Woolly Bear caterpillar has dense, coarse hair that will irritate the skin if touched. They are black with a rusty-red color band in the middle of its back. This caterpillar is found in groups at the bases of grass, weeds, and other plant material.
21. Camouflaged Emerald Moth
22. Common Buckeye
23. Eastern Tent
24. Large Maple Spanworm
The Viceroy caterpillar lives in the open forests and fields of Colorado. This interesting looking creature is either brown or green with white markings that resemble bird droppings! It is not poisonous; however, they cause predators to have an upset stomach because of the amount of salicylic acid they consume.
26. Hooded Owlet Moth
27. Milkweed Tussock
28. Hitched Arches Moth
29. Forest Tent
30. Polyphemus Moth
32. Variegated Fritillary
The Variegated Fritillary caterpillar are red with black and white stripes. This particular caterpillar can be seen around meadows, open lots and fields because they love to consume violets, pansies, and passion flower.
33. Afflicted Dagger
34. Genista Broom
35. Galium Sphinx
36. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar are bright green with black and white like eyes. This caterpillar can be seen in northeastern colorado, eating various plants, tulip trees, and wildflowers. The young Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar will mimic the appearance of bird droppings to ward off predators.
37. Cecropia Motri
38. Pipevine Swallowtail
39. Owlet Moth
40. Silver-Spotted Skipper
The Silver-spotted Skipper caterpillar can grow up to 2.5 centimeters long and are some of the smaller types of caterpillars in Colorado. The caterpillar is yellowish-green with a wrinkle like appearance on its body. They also have a large brown head with a pair of orange false eyes.
41. False Unicorn
42. Luna Moth
43. Blinded Sphinx Moth
44. Silvery Checkerspot
46. Imperial Moth
48. Bent-Line Gray Moth
49. Spotted Tussock Moth
The Spotted Tussock Moth caterpillar can grow up to 2.5 inches long and are seen between late summer and late fall in the foothills of Colorado. This caterpillar like to feed on trees and shrubs, which can be a nuisance to gardeners. The Spotted Tussock Moth have yellowish-white hairs with black, yellow, and orange stripes down its back.
The Thistle caterpillar can grow up to 1.5 inches and have sharp spikes on its back. As it continues to grow older, they become more yellow in color with four black stripes and several yellow spots on its back.
51. American Dagger Moth
52. American Lady
53. American Lappet Moth
54. Unicorn (True Unicorn)
The Unicorn caterpillar obtained its name because of its colorful- unicorn like appearance. It has bright yellow and blue stripes along with bright orange tufts. This insect lives on Willow, Alder, and Oak trees throughout Colorado. The Unicorn caterpillar can grow up to 2 inches long.
55. Two-Tailed Swallowtail Caterpillar
56. Hahncappsia Moth
57. Red Admiral Butterfly
Most caterpillars can be found all over Colorado; however, they love to be in mixed deciduous forests to eat as much as they can. The forests of Colorado provide enough food and shelter until they are ready to transform into a beautiful butterfly or moth. Depending on which species of caterpillar you are seeing can depend upon what type of vegetation is available. For example, if you have milkweed in your garden or live in an area abundant with milkweed, then the Monarch caterpillar will be seen more in your area.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock.com
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