What types of caterpillars can you find in Connecticut? From beautiful butterflies to colorful moths, the state has a diverse selection of these insects. They spend at least part of their lives in their caterpillar form.
The following list details sixteen of the most common types of caterpillars in Connecticut you’re likely to encounter while exploring.
1. Monarch Caterpillar
Monarch caterpillars grow to about two inches long and have a green body with a white stripe down the middle.
This type of caterpillar in Connecticut has yellow or orange heads with black spikes. Their legs are covered with red hairs, which act as sensors to help them find food.
They eat milkweed plants, which contain poisonous chemicals that make it difficult for many predators to eat them.
The Monarch caterpillar will eventually transform into a monarch butterfly once it reaches adulthood.
Cabbage Worms are one of the most common types of caterpillars in Connecticut. They can be green, brown, or black and usually have a yellow stripe down their back.
The cabbageworm eats the leaves off plants and is generally considered a pest. This caterpillar also infects cabbage plants by excreting a liquid that multiplies bacteria on the leaves.
They also feed on cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, turnips, mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage.
3. Woolly Bear
Woolly bear caterpillars are one of the most fantastic types of caterpillars in Connecticut.
They are a type of Isabella Tiger Moth and are recognizable for their black and yellow stripes. Woolly bears will stay this color until they have changed into a chrysalis or cocoon.
However, they turn brown and white with a fuzzy, wavy tail when they change. When you find one, it is best to leave them alone because they become dangerous if touched while they are young.
If you want to kill one, put some dish soap in a container and submerge the woolly bear completely.
4. Viceroy Caterpillar
Viceroy caterpillars are the most recognizable types of caterpillars in Connecticut. The thorax and head are marked with alternating black and white stripes that resemble the viceroy or monarch butterfly.
They are found throughout the US, but weather patterns can heavily influence their populations.
Viceroys are often active during the daytime, unlike other types of caterpillars. You might also see them feeding on willow tree leaves as they are part of the moth family.
You might also see them feeding on willow tree leaves as they are part of the moth family.
5. Large Maple Spanworm
The Large Maple Spanworm is a beautiful green caterpillar with a head that looks like a thimble. This caterpillar feeds on the leaves and branches of maple trees. They are most commonly found between April and June.
This caterpillar can be distinguished from other caterpillars by the characteristic black and white stripes that run down its side.
Their larvae have been observed in New York, Pennsylvania, and New England. In July, this type of caterpillar in Connecticut pupates as it enters its last stage before turning into an adult moth.
6. Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar
Variegated Fritillary caterpillars are members of the family brush-footed butterfly. These types of caterpillars in Connecticut are green with black stripes and a row of cream dots down each side.
It has red, orange, and yellow spots on its head. As it matures, the caterpillar will become brownish-gray; it measures about 1 inch long when mature.
These caterpillars feed on violets and other plants in the lily family, such as blueberries, huckleberries, and raspberries.
The caterpillar lives communally in nests on branches near the ground or along roadsides. Adults live only a few days.
Mating takes place just before females lay eggs. Females lay clusters of one to four eggs that hatch within two weeks after application. Larvae typically eat at least twice their weight daily before pupating into adulthood.
7. White-Marked Tussock Caterpillar
These caterpillars are part of the most common types of caterpillars in Connecticut. It’s also called the White-Marked Tussockwalks Moth, and it’s named for the tufts of white hairs on its back.
The larvae hide under leaves during the day and eat them at night. They can be seen from May to June; they are an essential part of our ecosystem because they consume many different types of leaves, which helps maintain healthy trees.
One remarkable fact about this species is that females have a pheromone gland near their heads to attract males.
8. Milkweed Tussock Caterpillar
The milkweed tussock caterpillars are dark green types of caterpillars in Connecticut with black, white, and yellow stripes. It can be found on the leaves of milkweed plants. It has a white tuft at the end of its tail.
The milkweed tussock caterpillar is one type of the many common eastern United States caterpillars. The larvae feed on their host plant, which they may search for by following the scent trails of other larvae or adults.
They are sometimes preyed upon by birds and parasitic wasps like the Tachinid Fly. After about two weeks, the adult butterfly will emerge from pupae formed out of this stage.
Once it appears, the caterpillar will turn into a chrysalis before emerging as an adult butterfly. Adult butterflies fly around to mate, lay eggs, and die off seasonally during winter.
9. Banded Tussock Caterpillar
Giant Leopard Moth caterpillars are large and brightly colored, with yellow, black, and blue stripes. These types of caterpillars in Connecticut have an orange head and a row of blue spots on their sides.
The Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar is related to the Io moth, which has similar coloring.
Adult Io moths are nocturnal insects with bright red eyespots on their wings. They feed by tapping into trees with their proboscis and sucking out tree sap for nutrition.
If you’re lucky enough to find one in the daytime, likely, it’s just molting or sunning itself after its metamorphosis.
10. Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar
The Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar is one of the most exciting types of caterpillar in Connecticut. The caterpillar spends its entire life cycle as a larva, living underwater and feeding on aquatic vegetation.
In just three months, it will grow to about eight inches long. When it reaches maturity, it will crawl onto land and spin a cocoon, which takes another week or so. Once this process is complete, the moth emerges from the cocoon.
The Giant Leopard Moth has an exciting way of defending itself against predators such as birds and other insects.
When threatened by an enemy, the caterpillar produces a foul-smelling liquid that can deter even hungry animals!
11. Parsley Caterpillar
Parsley caterpillars are types of caterpillars in Connecticut, most commonly found in New England and the Mid-Atlantic.
The parsley caterpillar is primarily light brown with a bit of gray and has green lines across its body. The parsley caterpillar’s eggs are laid on blades of grass which they use as food once they hatch.
These caterpillars feed primarily on plants from the carrot family, such as Queen Anne’s Lace, wild carrot, and poison hemlock.
Parsley caterpillars also have a unique defense mechanism; when threatened, they curl up into a tight knot that can’t be easily undone without injuring the insect’s body.
12. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillars are giant, brightly colored types of caterpillars in Connecticut with yellow and black stripes. These larvae feed on plants in the carrot family, like dill, fennel, and parsley.
While they can be found year-round, these creatures are most abundant from June to August, when they reach their full size.
These beautiful caterpillars are relatively large, and their bright colors help to protect them from predators. Like many other butterfly species, they have spiny urticating hairs on their body that can irritate if touched.
Although these caterpillars are primarily harmless, it’s best to avoid touching them when possible.
13. Spicebush Swallowtail Caterpillar
The Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar is a moth species, and these caterpillars are found all over the United States.
These types of caterpillars in Connecticut feed on the leaves of Spicebush, Sassafras, and Black Cherry trees. The Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar has a bright green body with white spots.
Like most butterflies and moths, this species has a long horn on its head that can be used for defense. Unlike most other swallowtail caterpillar species, this one’s horn is black like the rest of its body.
This caterpillar goes through four stages before becoming an adult moth: egg larva and pupa adult.
14. Cecropia Moth Caterpillar
The Cecropia moth is a giant moth found throughout the eastern United States and southern Canada. The caterpillar, or larva, can grow to four inches long.
The adult moth has a wingspan of about 6 inches and is light brown with dark bands on its outer edges.
This type of caterpillar in Connecticut feeds primarily on leaves from trees such as elm, maple, oak, and apple.
The cecropia caterpillar feeds at night and hides during the day under leaves or any other object it can find.
When threatened, the caterpillar will produce a foul-smelling substance that can be harmful if touched to the skin.
15. Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar
Spotted Apatelodes caterpillars are found on many kinds of plants and flowers. They feed on their host plant’s leaves, flowers, and buds.
The spotted apatelodes caterpillar is one of the most colorful types of caterpillars in Connecticut. They have bright yellow bodies with black spots.
When they pupate, they turn into a pupa that is black and white striped. This type of caterpillar in Connecticut can be seen from early July to late August.
16. Io Caterpillar
The Io caterpillar (Automeris io) is a moth found in North America. These nocturnal butterflies fly from night to night and have a wingspan that ranges from half an inch to one inch.
When they are not flying, the Io caterpillars can be found on trees with long and winding trails.
The trails are made of silk produced during movement, which is used as a safety net for when it falls off. One characteristic that distinguishes this type of caterpillar in Connecticut from other kinds is how it spins its cocoon.
As you can see, caterpillars come in many shapes and sizes. They all eat different foods, live differently, and are found in different habitats around the state.
If you’re a budding entomologist, it’s worth taking a closer look at some of these intriguing insects. Who knows? You might find your new favorite hobby!
Hopefully, this guide helps people who want to learn more about the types of caterpillars in Connecticut and how to identify them.
Please go out and explore their surroundings; nature is full of amazing creatures waiting to be discovered!