Caterpillars are common in the wild, but many different caterpillars can be found in Alabama.
Below is a list of various types of caterpillars in Alabama; they come in various sizes, colors, and shapes; let’s go on a bit of adventure because learning never ends.
1. Monarch Caterpillar
Monarchs are one of Alabama’s most popular types of caterpillars because these types of caterpillars in Alabama transform into beautiful butterflies. The beauty seen by this type of Caterpillar is unmatched by any other.
Monarchs have alternating black, white, and yellow stripes on their bodies, with five pairs of yellow spots on each side.
In addition, they have black antennae. To identify a monarch caterpillar, you should look for these distinctive features.
Some people also refer to it as a milkweed eater because of its diet consisting mainly of milkweed plants.
A monarch will grow up to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide at maturity. A tufted titmouse (also known as an Alabama bird) will feed on its larvae if it finds them; therefore, care must be taken not to leave them out in the open too long after they hatch or lay eggs.
The Cabbageworm is a type of Caterpillar that can be found in Alabama. These types of caterpillars in Alabama get their name from the cabbage-like pattern on their back.
It feeds by chewing through the leaves of plants, resulting in holes that look like someone chewed on them.
The Cabbageworm can be found feeding on plants such as squash, tomato, eggplant, and other vegetables.
One way to identify this type of Caterpillar is to examine the tip of the abdomen, where you will see a brown coloration with white stripes.
Another way is if you find its food plant – tomatoes, for example – leave some foliage around so they’ll get hungry and come out looking for food. They’re also relatively easy to catch since they move slowly.
3. Woolly Bear
Woolly bears are one of the most common types of caterpillars in Alabama. These furry caterpillars don’t bite, but they have a defense mechanism: ooze a white liquid that can stain anything.
Woolly bears are usually found on oak trees or willow trees, where they eat the leaves.
These types of caterpillars in Alabama can grow up to 3 inches long and are black with yellow spots on their back. Silver-spotted Skipper Caterpillar: Silver-spotted skipper caterpillars look like tiny spiders crawling around because they only have six legs.
Found in the southern United States, these pests are often seen eating cotton plants and cornstalks. However, once they turn into butterflies, these insects won’t be an issue anymore!
4. Viceroy Caterpillar
The Viceroy caterpillar is one of the types of caterpillars in Alabama. It is a green, white, or yellow-striped caterpillar with four pairs of blue spots on its back. It feeds mainly on trees but occasionally turns to other plants.
These types of caterpillars in Alabama are often seen feeding on the leaves at night while they hide during the day. Rarely spin cocoons as they pupate, so they can be found as larvae throughout the winter.
Instead, they form a chrysalis that hangs from twigs and branches. After emerging from the chrysalis, it will rest in nearby foliage for two days before flying away.
5. Large Maple Spanworm
The Large Maple Spanworm is one of the most common caterpillars in the eastern United States. These types of caterpillars in Alabama often reach lengths up to six inches and are greenish-brown with a black head. The nymphs are green with white stripes, which become more pronounced as they age.
Larvae feed on many different species of maple trees but prefer silver maple, sugar maple, red maple, and box elder.
These types of caterpillars in Alabama are also known to feed on other trees, including ash, birch, elm, hickory, oak, and walnut. Males will emerge in July and August; females will emerge earlier in May or June.
The larva pupates by spinning a loose cocoon on a branch or leaf while suspended from its silk threads.
When it emerges as an adult moth, it ha,s orange wings with dark brown bands and spots, a pair of cream-colored antennae, and long orange feathery feelers protruding from each side of its head.
It takes about five days for this moth to fully mature before mating occurs.
6. Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar
The Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar has a petite body with an oval shape. Its head is black, but the rest of its body is brown or green. This Caterpillar can be found on dandelions, goldenrod, and clover plants.
These types of caterpillars in Alabama feed on these plants by scraping away the leaves with their sharp mandibles.
The Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar has a life expectancy of one year. In winter, they will enter the ground and hibernate until spring.
Then, they emerge from the ground and migrate to various plants in the spring. Once they have grown into adult butterflies, males will fly about looking for females for mating purposes.
Females stay close to where they hatched from eggs; once eggs are laid in clusters, they stay on those same host plants for about ten days before pupating.
7. Curve-Lined Owlet Moth Caterpillar
The curve-lined owlet moth caterpillar is the larval form of a brown owlet moth, so it looks like a small, spiky brown moth. The Caterpillar’s head is brown, with two large spikes on each side.
Several white lines run lengthwise down the body, which can sometimes be difficult to see because they will blend into the body color.
In addition, the back end of the Caterpillar has four pairs of alternating light and dark stripes that can be seen from behind.
8. Tobacco Hornworm
Tobacco hornworms are large, green caterpillars with reddish-brown stripes running down their sides. These types of caterpillars in Alabama have a two-inch long white horn from the rear end.
Tobacco Hornworm caterpillars feed on plants in the nightshade family, including tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants.
The tobacco hornworm is not native to North America but was introduced by accident in Europe. However, it is found throughout the United States.
In addition to its plant diet, it will eat other insects, spiders, and dead animals. Although it does not sting or bite people, it can release an unpleasant odor if touched or handled.
9. White-Marked Tussock Caterpillar
The white-marked tussock caterpillar is an inchworm that lives on deciduous trees. The Caterpillar’s body is about an inch long with a prominent stripe running down the back.
One side of the Caterpillar’s body is marked with irregular white spots, while the other has rows of short black dots.
This species will turn into a small brown moth when it reaches maturity. The larvae feed primarily on leaves but eat buds, fruit, twigs, bark, and flowers.
These types of caterpillars in Alabama are often found at woodland edges or roadsides, where the larvae can pupate safely without being disturbed. White-marked tussocks are one type of Caterpillar living in Alabama!
10. Milkweed Tussock Caterpillar
The milkweed tussock caterpillar is a light green caterpillar with long, brown hair. These types of caterpillars in Alabama have short, brown spines on their backs. The adult female moth has a wing span of around 3 inches.
The males are smaller with a much shorter life span than females. Females lay eggs on the underside of leaves, while the larvae feed on leaves and grow up to 1 inch in length.
It can be identified by its triangular shape and head, which is often red. There can be as many as 100 eggs per leaf.
11. Monkey Slug
The monkey slug, also known as the banana slug, is a bright yellow caterpillar across North America. These types of caterpillars in Alabama are about one inch long, with two large black spots on their backs. These caterpillars feed on leaves from a wide variety of plants.
While they do not appear to be threatening at first, these caterpillars can pack a punch if handled; their chemical defenses can cause irritation or allergic reactions in humans.
The best way to identify the monkey slug is by searching for the large black spots on its body.
These types of caterpillars in Alabama increase and reach up to one inch long within three weeks. They turn into slugs after shedding their skin once or twice before becoming adults.
12. Cecropia Moth Caterpillar
The Cecropia Moth caterpillar is a beauty with its green and black stripes. It can be found in the Eastern United States. These types of caterpillars in Alabama are about three inches long when fully grown.
These types of caterpillars in Alabama feed on oak, birch, elm, pine, hickory, walnut, cottonwood, willow, privet bush, or other deciduous trees. This group is usually seen during the late summer months.
The Cecropia Moth caterpillar is one of the more common types of caterpillars in Alabama because it’s so widespread across North America – so if you see one near your home this summer, make sure to take a picture!
13. Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar
The spicebush swallowtail caterpillar is typically black with orange spots and has a yellow, red, or white band at the end. The larvae are often found on spicebush leaves.
These types of caterpillars in Alabama can be identified by their black heads, orange spots on their body, and a forked tail.
The larva goes through four stages before it becomes an adult butterfly: egg, larva (Caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), and adult.
The female butterfly will lay eggs on the underside of leaves; she will only lay one batch per day. The eggs hatch after three days into larvae that eat leaves as they grow.
14. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar is red, black, and yellow with a striped pattern. It has three pairs of blue-green spots on each side. The head is black with yellow bands.
These types of caterpillars in Alabama are considered significant with long bodies (length ranges from two to four inches).
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar feeds on many plants, including milkweed, parsley, asparagus, dandelion, tomato, clover, and toxic plants like poison ivy.
However, these types of caterpillars in Alabama prefer milkweed because it provides the most nutrition for them.
Since they can be found throughout the United States, they can be seen from April through October.
15. Parsley Caterpillar
The parsley caterpillar (Black Swallowtail) is a butterfly across the Southern United States. These types of caterpillars in Alabama are green, with a yellow stripe down their back. Parsley caterpillars only eat parsley, which makes them an easier species to identify.
This Caterpillar will turn into the black swallowtail butterfly when it matures. These types of caterpillars in Alabama can be identified by their two sets of orange spots on each wing.
In contrast to other swallowtails, these butterflies have three pairs of blue spots near the tip of each forewing; some also have one pair on the hindwings.
16. Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar
The Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar is a fierce-looking creature. It’s also the giant moth that inhabits North America, with females growing up to six inches long. Males are smaller, about two inches long.
The Caterpillar has a dark brown body with black spots near its head. These types of caterpillars in Alabama have three thoracic legs on their front end and five pairs on their rear end.
The Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar feeds primarily on birch, maple, poplar, sycamore, fir, oak, willow, and cottonwood trees during the larval stage.
These types of caterpillars in Alabama eat the leaves, buds, twigs, and sometimes fruit from these plants. Adults do not feed at all and live only for one week.
17. Banded Tussock Caterpillar
The Banded Tussock caterpillar is a relatively large black caterpillar with yellow, orange, or white stripes on its back. It is often found feeding on oak leaves. The larvae will curl up into a small ball when disturbed.
These types of caterpillars in Alabama grow up to 3 inches long but are usually about 1 inch long when fully grown.
They pupate in late summer and spend the winter as pupae before emerging as adults in spring. Adults are active during the day, while they do most of their feeding at night.
18. Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar
The Spotted Apatelodes caterpillar can be found on plants like the American beautyberry, honeysuckle, wild cherry, sassafras, and viburnum.
This Caterpillar is usually found from late summer through early fall. Its body is brown with white diagonal stripes. The head is black and has a row of long white hairs on the top, which look like antennae.
These types of caterpillars in Alabama also have long orange-red tails with black spots near the end. The Spotted Apatelodes caterpillar feeds by chewing small holes in leaves. It does not spin a web or produce silk.
However, when it feels threatened, it may put its front legs up in front of its face to form an X shape.
19. Io Caterpillar
The Io caterpillar is a large orange, and black Caterpillar found throughout the eastern United States. It feeds on trees, shrubs, and vines, which means it can be found on various plants. The larvae are typically seen from April through November.
These types of caterpillars in Alabama overwinter as pupae before emerging as adults in the spring or summer.
This species is considered a pest because it can defoliate large forest areas. In addition, they have been known to eat fruit crops such as blueberries and apples.
Most often, their presence isn’t an issue, but sometimes localized populations can wreak havoc on local ecosystems.
20. Flannel Moth Caterpillar
The Flannel Moth caterpillar(Asp) is one of the most common caterpillars in Alabama. It goes by many names, such as Asp, Hornworm, Woolly Bear, and Garden Tiger. These types of caterpillars in Alabama are fuzzy white with brown heads.
They curl up into a ball when threatened. Then, the eggs hatch into these caterpillars. These types of caterpillars in Alabama will eat leaves for about four weeks before pupating for about two weeks.
Depending on the species, adults will emerge from the pupae as moths with wings that span about three inches or more.
Over 70 species of these types of moths in North America alone feed on different plants like conifers or deciduous trees or shrubs.