How Many Types of Caterpillars Are There?

How Many Types of Caterpillars Are There?
Photo by Mihály Köles

It can be hard to keep track of all the types of caterpillars there are in the world, but thankfully we’ve done our research and compiled a list of the most common types of caterpillars. How many types of caterpillars are there?

Of course, there are over 100,000 species of caterpillars worldwide, so this is by no means comprehensive, but it should give you an excellent place to start if you’re wondering what types of caterpillars live where you live!

This article contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using these links. This helps me maintain the site and costs you nothing additional.

Which Species Have Horns/Antennae

How many types of caterpillars are there? Three caterpillar species have horns or antennae: the erythrina, the eucalyptus, and the oak.

The erythrina is very easy to identify because it has a bright red head with black markings on its body. The eucalyptus is named for its antennae resembling leaves from a tree. 

They also have yellow stripes along their back and green hair on their abdomen. The oak is known for having horns that come out of its head like an animal’s antlers. Its antennas extend from its head like branches from a tree.

Its larvae are brown with white dots all over them. Erythrina larvae can be found in Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas.

Eucalyptus larvae are common in temperate climates around Europe, Asia, and North America. Oak larvae are mostly east of the Mississippi River across North America.

How to Identify Caterpillars

Caterpillars are so beautiful and diverse, but if you’re not sure how to identify them, it can be difficult to tell which one you’re looking at.

The four most common types of caterpillars are the smooth-skinned caterpillar (commonly found in the eastern US), the spiny, hairy caterpillar (primarily located in North America), the velvety moth larva (mainly seen in the southern US), and the prominent moth larva (often seen throughout North America). Caterpillars have three pairs of actual legs and six pairs of prolegs at their abdomen. 

They also have a head capsule with five segments, each making up a pair of antennae and a set of sensory organs. With all these features, it’s not hard to identify what type of caterpillar you’re seeing!

What Do Different Species Eat?

How many types of caterpillars are there? Different species of caterpillars eat other things. For example, the larvae of a black swallowtail butterfly feed on plants in the parsley family. Rosy maple moths are fond of maple leaves. 

Some caterpillars, such as pine processionary moth larvae, eat only pine needles. And some species of caterpillars are carnivores, including syrphid fly larvae which eat other insects like aphids and thrips. And also, hawk moths have caterpillars that enjoy eating waxworms. 

There are so many different kinds of caterpillars with so many different appetites! So how does an animal this small find all these delicious meals?

With no mouths or mandibles to chew up food, they must rely on hungry predators to help them get their fill.

If you see a fuzzy ball wandering around your garden at night or during the day, it’s most likely looking for something tasty to eat – and if you’re not careful, it might just chow down on your precious plant life!

Caterpillar Characteristics

There are many types of caterpillars in the world, and the number of species is constantly changing as scientists discover new ones.

But how many types of caterpillars are there? In general, there are about 12,000 different species in existence. 

This means that there’s a lot to learn about these tiny creatures. Below is a list of some characteristics that can help you distinguish between different types of caterpillars: 

  • The number and shape of body segments 
  • The presence or absence of hair or setae 
  • The type of prolegs – whether they have six pairs or only one pair -The length of their antennae 
  • The position and arrangement of spiracles (holes on the sides of the body) 
  • Caterpillars that camouflage themselves by turning into a leaf

What Color Variations Do They Come in?

How many types of caterpillars are there? There are many different caterpillars, each with a different color variation.

For example, some come in shades of green, orange, brown, or black, while others come in various colors. In addition, some can change their color depending on their surroundings.

Others use their colors to help them blend in with their environment, so they don’t get eaten by predators. Regarding other animals, there are over 10,000 species of caterpillars in the animal kingdom.

The most common ones include bumblebees, gypsy moth caterpillars, and willow wands. All three have very colorful markings and patterns.

In addition, they have either long hair-like bristles or hairs on their back, making them hairy. The length of these bristles can vary from species to species which is why they’re sometimes referred to as fuzzy willows or woolly bears.

Caterpillar’S Scientific Name

How many types of caterpillars are there? Caterpillars can be identified by their scientific name, prominent family, and the order in which they are classified.

For example, some caterpillar families include Geometridae (geometrid caterpillars), Zygaenidae (snout moth caterpillars), Notodontidae (prominent or aposematic moth caterpillar), or Erebidae (underwing or tiger moth caterpillar).

Within these families, there are over 2,000 different species of caterpillars. The order they are classified depends on whether they have chewing mouthparts and where they live.

For example, if a larva has chewing mouthparts, it is an insect in the Insecta class and within the phylum Arthropoda. 

One type of classification for caterpillars is when they eat plant material and are placed under the suborder Heterocera. Another category for them if they eat only animal matter is to put them under the suborder Apocrita.

Where to Find Caterpillars

Caterpillars are insect larvae that grow and develop into butterflies or moths. They are found around the world and are common in gardens. This post will discuss how to find caterpillars, their types, and how to keep them safe. 

Caterpillars come in many shapes and sizes. Some have little hairs on their bodies, while others have skin that is brightly colored, like a neon sign at night. Caterpillars eat anything from leaves to dead animals, plants, and insects.

If you want to find some caterpillars, go outside on a warm sunny day and look for plants eaten away by the hungry larvae.

You can also use this list to help find which types of caterpillars live: Orange Tip, Yellow-tailed Black Tiger Moth, Gray Hairstreak, Orange Underwing Moth, Oak Eggar Caterpillar, White Admiral Moth, Painted Lady Butterfly. 

How many types of caterpillars are there? Of course, there are many different kinds of caterpillars, but if you’ve ever seen a monarch butterfly with its bright orange wings, you know how beautiful these creatures can be.

Are Caterpillars Harmful?

Caterpillars are not harmful to humans, and most species can be safely handled. However, a few caterpillars can be toxic or cause an itchy rash if touched.

These are primarily found in the tropics or temperate regions where natural resources and food are abundant. 

The erythrina moth caterpillar is one example that may cause an itchy rash on contact with the skin. In some cases, however, the rash will appear only after touching other objects. 

Unfortunately, touching this particular type of caterpillar also carries another risk: getting urushiol oil on your hands, exposing you to potential allergens from any other plants you feel afterward.

A less-known but equally dangerous kind of caterpillar is the Clothes Moth Larva, which causes an itchy rash similar to the Erythrina Moths. 

Is a Caterpillar an Insect or a Worm?

How many types of caterpillars are there? The answer to this question depends on how you want to define an insect or a worm.

Caterpillars are considered insects because they have a lot in common, like having three pairs of legs and segmented bodies. However, caterpillars also have a lot in common with worms. 

They both have no antennae and lack wings or other types of hard coverings. So is a Caterpillar an Insect or a Worm? 

It could be either, depending on how you look at it. One way to determine which one it is would be by looking at the similarities between what caterpillars have in common with insects and what they have in common with worms.


There are many caterpillars, and it isn’t easy to pinpoint how many types of caterpillars are there. There are over 10,000 different species of butterflies and moths in the world.

The exact number of caterpillar species is unknown, but it is believed to be around 3000. Only 12% of all caterpillar species have been described in this regard.

The most well-known type of caterpillar is probably the monarch butterfly, which ranges from Southern Canada through Central America. 

Monarchs undergo a metamorphosis process, changing into chrysalis and emerging as adult butterflies. They feed on milkweed plants (such as Asclepias spp.) and other types of plants that contain toxic substances called cardiac glycosides.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like