There is a diverse range of sizes and shapes in regard to different types of black caterpillars. Lepidoptera is the name of the order of insects that contains many kinds of caterpillars.
After emerging from their eggs, caterpillars consume a meal consisting primarily of the leaves of various plants and trees.
There are a lot of different types of black caterpillars, and some of them may be pretty terrifying to look at. There are varieties of caterpillars that are dark in color, fuzzy, and have spines that resemble hair. Other common black caterpillars have bright yellow or orange markings on their bodies.
Even though some black caterpillars may appear unpleasant and unappealing, these caterpillars will ultimately transform into lovely butterflies or moths.
For instance, the caterpillar of the monarch butterfly is black with white and yellow stripes that resemble tigers. As soon as it reaches the pupal stage, this caterpillar transforms into a beautiful monarch butterfly.
Even though they appear dangerous, most silky black caterpillars are not poisonous and do not have stingers.
Some giant black fuzzy caterpillars contain spines and setae, which are fine bristles that can be very unpleasant.
Even though they appear shaggy and fluffy, these black worms often carry spines that can deliver a painful sting.
You will learn about 14 different types of black caterpillars most frequently encountered while reading this article.
You will learn how to identify the various species of caterpillars as well as what distinguishing qualities each one possesses.
Different Types of Black Caterpillars
1. Peacock Butterfly Caterpillar
It is possible to recognize a Peacock caterpillar (Aglais io) by the black bristles and the little white dots scattered around its body.
The Peacock caterpillar, also known as the Aglais io, is one of the most peculiar and eye-catching examples in our compilation of different types of black caterpillars.
These caterpillars have long bodies, each of which is segmented, and their heads are spherical and black. These insects are easily identifiable by the many spikes that cover each segment of their bodies.
The spines may appear menacing and dangerous, yet there is no reason to be concerned about them. Contrary to popular belief, the Peacock butterfly caterpillar is not a stinging kind.
The caterpillar in question is distinguished from other species by the presence of numerous minute white spots all over its body.
These stand in stark contrast to the glossy black segments, giving the caterpillar a spotted look. This European kind of caterpillar can grow to a length of approximately 1.5 inches (4 cm).
2. Mourning Cloak Caterpillar
The Mourning Cloak caterpillar is another species of spiky black caterpillar (Nymphalis antiopa). This spiny caterpillar belongs to the Nymphalidae family of insects, which includes butterflies and moths.
This caterpillar is also known as the “spiny elm caterpillar” due to its spiky appearance and preference for feeding on elm leaves.
The lengthy body is a hue that is close to black and dark gray, and it has markings that are an orange-red tint on each segment.
The entirety of the body has teeny, tiny white dots, very much like the peacock caterpillar. Additionally, a darker black line runs up the length of the body.
There is no cause for alarm despite the caterpillar having jagged edges. The sharp, glossy spines serve as a defense mechanism against potential predators, although they are not venomous.
3. Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar
It is possible to recognize a Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) by its body, which is either dark brown or black and its orange spikes.
Another type of black caterpillar with spikes is the Pipevine Swallowtail. This caterpillar has a smooth body that features spines that are either brilliant red or orange. These caterpillars are members of the Papilionidae family of insects.
The ability to defend themselves is one of the fascinating characteristics of caterpillars belonging to the Troidini group.
The caterpillar has the ability to protrude an item that resembles a forked tongue from behind its head. This helps scare away potential predators by giving the impression that it is a snake’s tongue.
Pipevine plants, found in Florida, Texas, and California, are the preferred food source for these black and orange caterpillars.
In addition, these different types of black caterpillars consume the poisons the plants produce, so other animals, like birds and insects, do not find them appetizing.
The reddish-orange and black spikes on this kind of caterpillar may give the impression that they are dangerous, but in reality, they do not sting humans.
4. Black Cutworm
The body of the Black Cutworm (Agrotis ipsilon) is dark and smooth and can range in color from drab to dark brown.
The Black Cutworm caterpillar is a large and stout caterpillar that is dark brown and almost completely gray. Its dark and lustrous body is devoid of any spikes, hairs, or spines.
Despite its common name, this species of Noctuidae caterpillar actually belongs to the family of insects known as Noctuidae.
The capacity of these long, plump caterpillars to chop plants down at their stems gave rise to the moniker “cutting caterpillars.” They do not climb the plant’s stems to eat the leaves; instead, they destroy the plants from the roots up.
These segmented insects can vary in color from gray to brown to practically black, and they have a plump, segmented body.
The head end of the caterpillar is easily identifiable because it has black freckles. Aside from its smooth and shiny exterior, the Black Cutworm lacks any distinctive characteristics that may aid identification.
5. Catalpa Sphinx
The Catalpa Sphinx (Ceratomia catalpae), also known as the Catalpa Worm, is a kind of black caterpillar that may be quite beautiful.
It doesn’t take long for swarms of these leaf-eating caterpillars to strip entire trees of their leaves. These caterpillars belong to the family Sphingidae and are known as hawk moth caterpillars.
As they develop into adults, Catalpa Sphinx caterpillars eventually acquire a glossy, jet-black coloration. In their immature stages, larvae typically have a pale tint and few distinguishing marks.
As time goes on, they get darker and darker until they are completely black. In addition, they have distinctive yellow patterns that run along each side.
These come together to form a yellow row that runs along the length of the caterpillar on either side. Even though this particular black caterpillar does not threaten humans, its tail has a protruding spike that looks dangerous.
You will also observe that their feet at the head end are black, while their prolegs in the middle region are yellow.
This bright yellow and black caterpillar has a segmented body that is black on the outside and yellow on the inside.
The Catalpa Sphinx caterpillar is a big species that can reach a length of up to two inches (five centimeters), making them one of the largest caterpillars on our list of different types of black caterpillars.
6. Azalea Caterpillar
The azalea caterpillar’s (Datana major) body is black, with yellow bands all over it. The caterpillar’s head is orange.
The azalea caterpillar is a black caterpillar that is not as common as some others. This caterpillar species typically thrive in Florida, Kansas, and the states along the United States East coast.
The azalea caterpillar can have more or less black markings, and the pattern of those markings can vary from caterpillar to caterpillar.
The head of the caterpillar is orange and spherical, and its rear end is orange. Additionally, the caterpillar has a profusion of yellow markings all over its body. The lengthy, creeping insect has some peculiar prolegs that are reddish-brown.
When you get a good look at it, you’ll discover that it has long, thin hairs that protrude from its body. Even though this kind of caterpillar has spines, they are not particularly noticeable, and it does not appear to be hairy or fuzzy.
Unlike most other different types of black caterpillars, this particular species can be a pest. Crops and plants are susceptible to suffering extensive harm at the hands of these Datana caterpillars in regions where they are common.
7. Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar
The species known as the Tersa Sphinx (Xylophanes tersa) is a very dark or practically black variant caterpillar.
Because of the false eye markings that run along their backs, it is simple to recognize these caterpillars as belonging to the family Sphingidae.
There are Tersa Sphinx caterpillars in both Central and South America, as well as in the southern states of the United States, such as Texas and Arizona.
Depending on its stage, the Tersa Sphinx can appear as either a light brown-beige color with dark brown eye markings or as a dark brown caterpillar with distinct eye markings and a ‘horn’ at one end of its body.
This type of “hornworm,” like other “hornworms” and caterpillars of the hawk moth, does not bite or sting and is completely harmless.
8. White-lined Sphinx
The White-lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata) is identifiable by its single orange horn and the presence of several tiny white or orange dots over its body.
One of the most widespread and frequent hawk moths is the White-lined Sphinx. This particular species on our list of different types of black caterpillars come in a wide spectrum of colors, with some larvae being bright green and others being black and orange.
The black species of White-lined Sphinx have a single orange horn on the end of its tail, which is one of its distinguishing characteristics.
The tip of the horn will often be black, but it can also be yellow. Although the horn appears to be a stinger, there is no danger associated with it.
There are noticeable white or orange patterns on the body of the caterpillar, much like there are on other Sphinx caterpillars.
These appear to be clumps of very small dots separated by pairs of larger dots on either side of each segment.
The stunning pink and white moths that emerge from the pupae of this caterpillar gave rise to the name of the caterpillar itself.
9. Woolly Bear Caterpillar
The Woolly Bear caterpillar, also known as Pyrrharctia isabella, is one of the most frequent caterpillars you may find in late summer.
It is covered in black and brown hair and has a fuzzy appearance. This fuzzy caterpillar is easy to recognize because of the broad band of brown or orange that circles its body and the black tips of its legs.
Caterpillars that are black and brown, such as the Woolly Bear, do not belong to a dangerous or stinging species.
Skin irritation or contact dermatitis may result from handling one of these fuzzy worm-like organisms with its tufts of spiked hair. In most cases, these critters look like fuzzy worms.
The Woolly Bear caterpillar has a defense system that is one of its distinguishing features. When it senses danger, the caterpillar will coil itself into a ball of spines to protect itself. As soon as the danger passed, they scrambled to get to safety as fast as possible.
This bug, which has a spiky appearance and is often known as the Isabella Tiger Moth caterpillar, feeds on the leaves of trees, bushes, and other types of vegetation.
One of the largest varieties of black furry caterpillars can reach a length of up to 2.3 inches (6 centimeters).
10. Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar
The Giant leopard moth caterpillar (Hypercompe scribonia) is a notable mention in our compilation of different types of black caterpillars.
The Giant Leopard caterpillar is a spiky caterpillar that is black in color and feeds on the plants in your yard.
Even though their black spines appear fluffy and soft, these fuzzy black caterpillars are quite sharp and needle-like.
The black Giant Leopard caterpillar species has many intriguing characteristics, one of which is the presence of red stripes or bands between its black segments.
These give the spiky caterpillar an appearance similar to that of a black and red fuzzy caterpillar when the caterpillar is crawling.
This particular kind of caterpillar does not possess venom, but it may become painful if its spikes come into contact with the skin.
These caterpillars are black and red; you may find them in Texas, Florida, Mexico, and all along the United States East coast.
The Giant Leopard caterpillar has remarkable red stripes between the strong black spikes covering its body.
These stripes develop as the caterpillar coils up to defend itself. The Giant Leopard species never grow to be more than 2 inches in length (5 cm).
11. Garden Tiger Moth Caterpillar
The Garden Tiger caterpillar, also known as Arctia Caja, is a “woolly bear” species that seems covered in fur. This dark-colored caterpillar is a member of the Artica genus, located within the Erebidae family of creepy crawlers.
The long spines resemble hair and are covered with colors including black, orange, and grayish-white. You can find this lengthy caterpillar feeding on the leaves of various plants.
Although Garden Tiger caterpillars do not have venomous stingers, the caterpillars’ hairy spines can irritate the skin.
After going through the pupation process, the fuzzy black and orange caterpillar transforms into a stunning moth.
This creature possesses two pairs of wings, one set of which is orange with blue and black patterns and the other set of which is black and white. This species, like the majority of woolly caterpillars, can reach a length of approximately 2.3 inches (6 cm).
12. Scarce Dagger Moth Caterpillar
The Scarce Dagger caterpillar, also known as Acronicta auricoma, is an all-black caterpillar with tufts of setae that are black and orange or yellow.
This species’s black and orange caterpillar appears to have a substantial amount of fuzz. On each segment, one pair of little bunches of fine hairs stick out in opposite directions.
Bright yellow or orange coloration is on the spines in the middle and those at the head and the tail. Because of its yellow and black markings, potential predators can mistake the caterpillar for a wasp.
This black-haired species has hairs that, despite not being poisonous or toxic, can cause skin irritation if they come into contact with it. The patterns found on the adult moth inspired the caterpillar’s moniker “dagger moth caterpillar.”
13. Walnut Caterpillar
These species of caterpillars cannot be excluded from this list of different types of black caterpillars. The body of the Walnut Caterpillar (Datana integerrima) is black, and its hairs are a white-gray color.
The Walnut caterpillar is a kind of black crawling insect characterized by the presence of long, white spindly spines all over its body.
The family Notodontidae includes this black-and-white fluffy caterpillar with white spots. The behavior of the Walnut caterpillar, which travels in groups, is one of the more remarkable aspects of this insect.
You can frequently see these caterpillars moving in long lines with other individuals of their kind. One of the reasons why they are also known as “processionary caterpillars” is because of this fact.
Although they belong to a kind of hairy caterpillars, they are not harmful in any way and should not cause any irritation.
The caterpillar appears fuzzy and wispy because of the thin grey hairs covering its lustrous, plump black body.
14. Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
A fully grown black swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes) has a green body striped with black and dotted with yellow.
It is Black in its infancy and has a small, plump body that is black and marked with yellow and white. As the larvae age, they transform into a sort of bright green caterpillars with black and yellow stripes.
Caterpillars that will eventually become Black Swallowtail butterflies feature black and white saddle marks when they are younger. Because they look like bird droppings, this serves as a protection mechanism for the organism.
You will typically see them nibbling on green leaves, such as carrot leaves, parsley, and other types of green foliage.
Because it feeds so voraciously on parsley and parsnips, this butterfly species is also known as the “Parsnip Swallowtail” or “Parsley worm.”
Frequently Asked Questions Different Types of Black Caterpillars
Although some black caterpillar species are called worms, they are not related. Caterpillars of all colors, including black, green, striped, and hairy, are classified as Insecta. Worms are invertebrates, not an insect.
Most black caterpillars are not poisonous and, therefore, not dangerous to people. Some black furry caterpillars have stinging barbs or spines that can cause skin discomfort or dermatitis.
Only hairy moth caterpillars can sting, whereas butterfly caterpillars do not.
Some people believe that the breadth of the brown ring on the Woolly Bear caterpillar can forecast how long winter will last. This is not true, and no evidence supports this assertion.
Although caterpillars can consume a lot of leaves, their jaws are too small to bite people.